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Iodine pills in pregnancy could help babies and save money, study suggests

Daily iodine supplements for pregnant and lactating women could boost their child's IQ and save the NHS money, new research has found.

Iodine - mainly found in milk, dairy and fish - is important for healthy brain development and pregnant women need an increased uptake, however there is some evidence that the UK population may not be getting enough.

The research, published in The Lancet, found that iodine supplementation could save the NHS £199 per pregnant woman, and the baby's IQ could incress by 1.22 IQ points.

The World Health Organization recommends that an adult gets 150mcg (micrograms) of iodine a day, but this should increase to 250mcg during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when requirements increase due to the additional needs of the baby.

This is due to increased thyroid hormone synthesis and renal iodine loss during pregnancy, transfer of iodine to the foetus, and the required concentration of iodine in breast milk.

In America - which also has mild deficiency rates - new guidelines were released in February by the U.S. Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) advising manufacturers to include 150 micrograms of iodine to daily pregnancy supplements.

Writing in the journal, researchers concluded that "as food fortification alone may not be enough to achieve iodine sufficiency for pregnant women, our results strengthen the case for universal iodine supplementation of all women before and during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding in mild-to-moderate iodine deficient countries".