[Hot Science] Maternal iodine status and its impact on offspring language skills

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General Nutrition Obstetrics / Gynaecology Paediatrics Healthy Eating & Hydration Malnutrition
[Hot Science] Maternal iodine status and its impact on offspring language skills

Iodine inadequacy can affect the production of thyroid hormones, leading to impaired brain development in fetal life.

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  • Iodine deficiency is a common nutritional disorder over the globe and is a key cause of preventable brain impairment
  • This study aimed to reveal,
    • Association between maternal iodine status during pregnancy and child neurodevelopment at 6, 12 and 18 months of life

Study Design

  • A population-based prospective cohort in Norway


  • This study included 851 mother-child dyads with singleton pregnancies


  • A spot urine sample was collected for determination of urine iodine concentration (UIC)
  • Child neurodevelopment was assessed at 6, 12 and 18 months via meeting with a research assistant

Key Findings

  • The median UIC in pregnancy was 78 mcg/L
    • 79% (676 out of 851) women showed a UIC < 150 mcg/L
    • 28% (242 out of 851) women showed a UIC < 50 mcg/L
  • 18% (155 out of 851) women reported use of an iodine-containing supplement during the last 3 months before the collection of urine sample
    • Higher UIC was noted in supplement users (median 92 mcg/L) versus non-supplement users (median 77 mcg/L) (p < 0.001)
  • A low UIC mcg/L during pregnancy (< ~100 mcg/L) was,
    • Significantly related to poorer skills in language domains (receptive and expressive) in infancy and toddlerhood
    • NOT related to poorer cognitive score or fine- and gross mother skills
  • Use of iodine-containing supplement during pregnancy was related to poorer gross motor skills (standard beta = -0.18, 95% CI = -0.33, -0.33, p = 0.02)


  • Insufficient iodine intake during pregnancy was linked to lower infant language skills up to 18 months

Link to the full article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6163597/


Markhus MW, Dahl L, Moe V, Abel MH, Brantsæter AL, Øyen J, Meltzer HM, Stormark KM, Graff IE, Smith L, Kjellevold M. Maternal iodine status is associated with offspring language skills in infancy and toddlerhood. Nutrients. 2018;10(9). pii: E1270.