Teenage girls with low iodine levels could be putting the health of future children at risk, doctors warn.

Scientists discovered that 70 per cent of British schoolgirls were deficient in iodine. The mineral is crucial for brain development in the womb, and a lack of iodine could stunt the intelligence of any children she has.

Researcher Mark Vanderpump, of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, told the Society of Endocrinology's annual conference that the iodine deficiency was probably down to a lack of milk. He said:

"Iodine deficiency is one of the main preventable causes of mental impairment and studies show that if the mother's thyroid is underactive then the baby can be born with an IQ that is 10 to 15 points lower."

The World Health Authority is recommending that Britain add iodine to table salt, or to the folic acid tablets already recommended for women in the first weeks of pregnancy to combat the problem.

Posted by Robert Mair on 26.4.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com