​The 1 Thing to Eat During Pregnancy for a Smarter Baby

Maressa Brown Health Check

pregnant woman belly at windowFrom the moment you find out you're expecting, you want to be sure that you're doing everything you can to promote your baby's wellness and development. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that women's prenatal vitamins and diet should contain an essential element: iodine.

In the new report, which appears in the journal Pediatrics, the AAP notes that around one-third of pregnant women have a mild iodine deficiency. This doesn't exactly come as a surprise considering that iodine consumption has fallen over the last few decades, likely due to people eating more processed foods, which contain uniodized salt. Iodine supplementation is already recommended by the American Thyroid Association and other groups.

And this is of concern because iodine is necessary to produce thyroid hormone, which, in turn, helps the brain develop.

A severely iodine-deficient fetus or infant may suffer irreversible mental retardation. Thus, researchers are worried that a mild deficiency in a mother may cause slightly decreased intelligence in a child.

Thus, the AAP recommends women use supplements that contain at least 150 micrograms of iodide, a source of iodine easily absorbed by the body. Between the supplement and proper dietary intake, iodine consumption should come up to the recommended 220 micrograms for pregnant women or 290 micrograms for breastfeeding moms, the daily amounts recommended by the Institute of Medicine. You can get more iodine in your diet by eating dairy products, seafood (though, it certainly bears noting that certain fish are more recommended than others), and iodized salt in your cooking.

That said, experts caution that it's possible for women to have too much of a good thing. Going overboard with iodine can definitely lead to health consequences -- adverse effects on the thyroid, for instance -- so sticking to the recommended doses and being sure not to overdo it is best. Ultimately, a woman's mild deficiency of iodine won't significantly hurt a baby, but a little more of it in her prenatal vitamin and diet could be beneficial.

Are you inclined to up your dose of iodine given this news?

 

Image via phalinn/Flickr

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