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Schoolkids need iodine, not funding: prof

AAP logoAAP 5/12/2016

Australian kids don't need more funding to perform better at school - they need more iodine, argues Cres Eastman, clinical professor of medicine at the Sydney Medical School, who says the debate about school funding to lift results overlooks the underlying problem.

Professor Eastman says the World Health Organisation has labelled environmental iodine deficiency during pregnancy the most common global cause of impaired brain development.

He points to a study by the Menzies Institute in Hobart which found NAPLAN scores of nine-year-olds born to mildly iodine deficient mothers were about 10 per cent poorer than children whose mothers had a sufficient intake.

The academic called for a public health campaign to promote iodine supplementation before conception and during pregnancy.

"The reason the kids from Kazakhstan are performing better than ours may well be due to the fact that they have had universal iodisation of all edible salt in Kazakhstan for more than a decade," he writes in Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

"Of course it would be naive to believe iodine deficiency was the sole cause of poor scholastic performance in Australian children, but the evidence for it being a significant factor cannot be denied."

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