The nutrient iodine plays a central role in the production of thyroid hormones. Globally, 2 billion individuals are estimated to have inadequate iodine intake, including one-third of all school-aged children. In Ireland, three-in-four women of childbearing age have inadequate iodine intake.
During pregnancy, maternal iodine deficiency can result in severe and long-lasting consequences for an infant’s developing brain, making iodine deficiency one of the most important preventable causes of neurological impairment worldwide. The magnitude of this impact on the brain development of Irish infants is unknown.
Currently, we do not have a good test of an individual’s iodine status and estimating iodine intake from our diet is challenging, complicating this matter even further.