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RCOG statement on Lancet paper on iodine deficiency during pregnancy

News 22 May 2013

Today The Lancet published a paper looking at the relationship between iodine deficiency during pregnancy and children’s mental development.

The study included 1000 mothers and their children and found that iodine deficiency in pregnancy may have an adverse effect on children’s mental development.

The researchers measured the iodine concentration in urine samples taken in the first trimester from 1040 pregnant women. They found that children of women in the iodine-deficient group were significantly more likely to have low scores of verbal IQ, reading accuracy, and reading comprehension.

RCOG spokesperson Dr Daghni Rajasingam said:

“This study highlights the need for a healthy diet pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy. Most people should be able to get all the iodine they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. Food rich in iodine include milk, dairy products and fish.

“However if you are pregnant and worried that you are not eating enough iodine rich food, you can take an iodine supplement. Iodine deficiency has previously been shown to be harmful to the development of the baby.

“As healthcare professionals, it is our role to reinforce the importance for proper diet and nutrition during pregnancy and throughout a woman’s lifespan. If women are concerned or need advice they should talk to their midwife or GP.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email

The RCOG’s Scientific Impact Paper on Nutrition in Pregnancy can be found here.