Despite the introduction of salt iodization programmes as national measures to control iodine deficiency, several European countries are still suffering from mild iodine deficiency (MID). In iodine sufficient or mildly iodine deficient areas, iodine deficiency during pregnancy frequently appears in case the maternal thyroid gland cannot meet the demand for increasing production of thyroid hormones (TH) and its effect may be damaging for the neurodevelopment of the foetus. MID during pregnancy may lead to hypothyroxinaemia in the mother and/or elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in the foetus, and these conditions have been found to be related to mild and subclinical cognitive and psychomotor deficits in neonates, infants and children. The consequences depend upon the timing and severity of the hypothyroxinaemia. However, it needs to be noted that it is difficult to establish a direct link between maternal iodine deficiency and maternal hypothyroxinaemia, as well as between maternal iodine deficiency and elevated neonatal TSH levels at birth. Finally, some studies suggest that iodine supplementation from the first trimester until the end of pregnancy may decrease the risk of cognitive and psychomotor developmental delay in the offspring.
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