Iodine, through the thyroid hormones, is required for the development of the auditory cortex and cochlea (the sensory organ for hearing). Deafness is a well-documented feature of endemic cretinism resulting from severe iodine deficiency. However, the range of effects of suboptimal iodine intake during auditory development on the hearing ability of children is less clear. We therefore aimed to systematically review the evidence for the association between iodine exposure (i.e. intake/status/supplementation) during development (i.e. pregnancy and/or childhood) and hearing outcomes in children. We searched PubMed and Embase and identified 330 studies, of which thirteen were included in this review. Only three of the thirteen studies were of low risk of bias or of good quality, this therefore limited our ability to draw firm conclusions. Nine of the studies (69 %) were in children (one RCT, two non-RCT interventions and six cross-sectional studies) and four (31 %) were in pregnant women (one RCT, one cohort study and two case reports). The RCT of iodine supplementation in mildly iodine-deficient pregnant women found no effect on offspring hearing thresholds. However, hearing was a secondary outcome of the trial and not all women were from an iodine-deficient area. Iodine supplementation of severely iodine-deficient children (in both non-RCT interventions) resulted in improved hearing thresholds. Five of six cross-sectional studies (83 %) found that higher iodine status in children was associated with better hearing. The current evidence base for the association between iodine status and hearing outcomes is limited and further good-quality research on this topic is needed.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society
- auditory development