Our thyroid glands need iodine to produce the hormones that control metabolism, growth and development. Iodine is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding for the normal development of a baby’s brain and nervous system.
Even mild to moderate iodine deficiency can affect growth and development in unborn babies, infants and young children.
Iodine deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to increase in size. An enlarged thyroid gland, or goitre, can:
- affect hormone production
- cause swallowing and breathing difficulties
- lead to hypothyroidism, which can cause problems such as weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, tiredness, intolerance to cold and depression
- result in stunted growth, intellectual impairment and a lower level of intelligence measured by IQ.