The introduction of universal iodine supplements for pregnant women could save countries thousands of pounds in future health costs for each child, even in nations with only a mild iodine deficiency such as the UK.
According to new research the NHS could save around £200 per child if it gave small doses of iodine to expectant and breastfeeding mothers. The findings suggest the wider benefits to society could be worth around £4,500 for every child due to the likeliness these children would earn more and cost the public sector less to support. The World Health Organisation has described iodine deficiency as ”a serious public health threat for two billion people”, 241 million of whom are children.
In pregnancy, the problem “remains the leading cause of preventable retardation worldwide”, the report published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology says. Iodine deficiency is also implicated in stillbirth, miscarriage, physical impairment and thyroid dysfunction and thus is crucially important in pregnant women and young children especially.