Low iodine levels in teen girls put future babies at risk

April 26th, 2011 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 26 (IANS) Two-thirds of teenage girls have low iodine levels, potentially jeopardising the health of their future children, according to an expert.

A study of more than 700 schoolgirls in Britain found almost 70 percent were deficient in iodine, which is key to brain development in the womb.

The deficiency may not affect a girl’s own health, but can stunt the intelligence of any children she has.

Teenage girls were studied because, as potential mothers-to-be, their iodine levels are seen as the most critical, according to a Daily Mail report.

Mark Vanderpump, consultant physician in diabetes and endocrinology at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London, who led the study, believes teenage girls are so short of the mineral because they are not drinking enough milk.

He warned: “Iodine deficiency is one of the main preventable causes of mental impairment and studies show that if the mother’s thyroid is underactive then the baby can be born with an IQ that is 10 to 15 points lower,” the report says.

When Vanderpump measured iodine levels from 737 girls in their early teens from around Britain, he found that 69 percent were classed as deficient by World Health Organisation standards.

And 18 percent were classed as having “very low” levels of iodine - no more than half the recommended amount - the Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference heard.

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