The intake of foods rich in iodine is essential during the period of pregnancy.
The lack of this nutrient during childhood or during prenatal development can even cause cognitive delays in children.
About 46% of Portuguese children in school age presents a food low in iodine levels, according to a recent study conducted in Portugal. This food shortage can jeopardise children’s cognitive development, according to experts.
Edwart Limbert, Coordinator of the study of iodine Intake in Portugal, says even though «the deficiencies of iodine intake, although marginal, can be a source of bad school performance». The expert adds that «the deficits in iodine intake thresholds, as verified in some European countries, may be accompanied by attention and learning difficulties in apparently normal children».
A diet rich in iodine is therefore vital at any age. However, it is in childhood and during pregnancy that need to consume iodine increases. Iodine is present in fish, seafood, bread, cheese, in cow’s milk, eggs, yoghurt and us in the algae. Ideally, the age of women becoming pregnant should receive about 150 mcg per day of which should increase to about 250 mcg/day during pregnancy and the period after the birth.
This insufficient intake of iodine in the diet during childhood or during prenatal development represents an important risk factor for the onset of changes in thyroid function that can lead to mental retardation and growth.
Insufficient intake of iodine can lead to decreased production of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) and to an increase in TSH (pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid) in an attempt to compensate for this reduction. In pregnancy, low and moderate deficits of thyroid hormones can affect IQ and the growth of the fetus. It is therefore recommended that all pregnant women or breastfeeding women take daily supplements containing iodine.
During childhood, the thyroid problems can affect both the physical and mental development, for your time, can harm the social and learning skills of children. It is essential that the parents be alert to symptoms of thyroid dysfunction. Experts warn that ‘ early intervention is vital to avoid long-term problems», points out the study coordinator.