Quote: "Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can result in children having learning difficulties..."
Deficiency rates were lower among children, with ten per cent of toddlers not getting enough iodine, but they were significantly higher among women aged 19 to 49.
"Insufficient iodine intake, particularly in groups such as pregnant women, babies, and young children, is of great concern,'' said Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Aging Senator Jan McLucas, who released the results.
Senator McLucas said the findings confirmed the necessity for the mandatory addition of iodine to bread in Australia, which would reduce the incidence of inadequate iodine intake to 5 per cent.
Mild to moderate iodine deficiency can result in children having learning difficulties and can affect the development of motor skills and hearing. In extreme cases, children can be born with severe intellectual disability.
A government food scientist, Paul Brent, said "While salt iodisation might produce a slightly better coverage for adults, salty diets were not good for the health and analyzers had shown using salt could end up delivering risky levels of iodine to children."
The Australian Total Diet Study tested levels of the trace elements selenium, chromium, molybdenum, nickel and iodine in 96 types of food. It was necessary to strike a balance. "Bread is eaten by enough people to have a real effect," said Dr Brent, the chief scientist at Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
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