Maternal iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with impaired neurodevelopment and cognitive deficits in offspring. Despite this, the UK neither fortifies food with iodine nor issues iodine recommendations to pregnant women. Now, a modelling analysis published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology
has examined the cost effectiveness of an iodine supplementation programme.
The researchers calculated that iodine supplementation would result in a net gain of 1.22 intelligence quotient (IQ) points per child in the UK. Having reviewed data from eight studies, they estimated that each additional IQ point would be worth £3,297 based on lifetime earnings. There would also be a cost saving from both an NHS and a societal perspective, saving £199 and £4,476, respectively, per pregnant woman.
The study “emphasises the cost-effectiveness of an iodine supplementation strategy for pregnant women in the UK”, the authors conclude.
 Monahan M, Boelaert K, Jolly K et al. Costs and benefits of iodine supplementation for pregnant women in a mildly to moderately iodine-deficient population: a modelling analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2015. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00212-0.