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Facts for Life

Nutrition and growth

Supporting Information


Iodine in a pregnant woman's and young child's diet is especially critical for the development of the child's brain. It is essential to help prevent learning disabilities and delayed development. Using iodized salt instead of ordinary salt provides pregnant women and their children with as much iodine as they need.

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Small amounts of iodine are essential for children's growth and development. If a woman does not have enough iodine during pregnancy, her child is likely to be born with a mental disability or possibly a hearing or speech disability. If the child does not get enough iodine during infancy and childhood, he or she may have delayed physical, mental or cognitive development. Even mild deficiency can reduce learning ability and lower intelligence.

Goitre, an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland causing a swelling of the neck, is a sign of iodine missing in the diet. Iodine deficiency in early pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Using iodized salt instead of ordinary salt provides pregnant women and children with as much iodine as they need. Iodized salt is safe for the whole family and is the only salt needed for all cooking. Families should be sure to buy only iodized salt of good quality – properly marked and packaged. Mothers need to make sure they consume only iodized salt before, during and after pregnancy. Mothers and fathers need to ensure that the salt consumed by their children is iodized.

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