By Jonathan Gorstein and Greg S. Garrett
The Life You Can Save and GiveWell recently highlighted the critical importance of iodine nutrition by recommending not one but two non-profit organizations working on iodine interventions: the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Iodine Global Network (IGN). So why is iodine nutrition important, and why right now?
The evidence is clear. Iodine deficiency is a global public health problem and the world’s most common cause of preventable brain damage in newborns and infants. Goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland in the neck) is just the visible tip of the iceberg. The “hidden” effects are much more life-limiting and severe. During pregnancy, iodine deficiency can cause stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, and congenital brain abnormalities that may lead to irreversible and severe mental impairment.
The impact of iodine deficiency lasts a lifetime. It limits a child’s ability to learn, earn a living, and live a healthy life. These debilitating consequences are often felt by the whole community: a chronic problem can decrease the average IQ by as much as 13 points.
This article was originally written for The Life You Can Save blog and published on 11 June 2015. You can now listen to it or download it as a podcast here