A doctor with babies in a neonatal care unit in Russia. Photo: Alexander Ryumin / TASS via Getty Images

Almost 19 million babies globally are at risk of developing brain damage each year due to a lack of sufficient iodine during pregnancy, The Guardian reports. In the first 1,000 days after conception, iodine deficiency can lead to neurological and psychological development difficulties.

Global context: Some countries are at risk of iodine deficiency problems throughout their populations because the mineral isn’t consistently available in the soil. And, while iodized salt is available to 86% of the world’s households, in Burundi, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Sudan deficiency is prevalent.

  • “More broadly, widespread iodine deficiency can diminish the cognitive capital of entire nations, diminishing socio-economic progress, experts claim,” according to The Guardian’s Hannah Summers.
  • How soils lose iodine, per the World Health Organization's assessment of iodine deficiency disorders: "The erosion of soils in riverine areas due to loss of vegetation from clearing for agricultural production, overgrazing by livestock, and tree-cutting for firewood results in a continued and increasing loss of iodine from the soil."
  • In eastern and southern Africa, 3.9 million newborn babies are unprotected, per a UNICEF and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (Gain) report. The rate of coverage is better in south Asia, but because of the high number of births, 4.3 million children are still at risk there.
  • Some western European countries, including the UK, are not implementing salt iodization well, according to a senior UNICEF advisor on nutrition, Roland Kupka.

The science: Iodine is needed to create thyroid hormones that aid brain development, per WHO.

Since the 1990s, one solution has been to increase accessibility of iodized salt, for instance, through edible salt tablets that contain sufficient amounts of the mineral.

  • The recommendation: To eat 5 grams of salt per day, and to make sure that all salt consumed is iodized. Iodine is contained in grains, eggs, and seafood.

Go deeper

Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

A Black Lives Matter banner and a United States flag on the facade of the U.S. embassy building in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Simon Shin/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 10,945,600 — Total deaths: 523,035 — Total recoveries — 5,797,206Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 2,767,669 — Total deaths: 128,951 — Total recoveries: 781,970 — Total tested: 33,462,181Map.
  3. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  4. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, and its most-infected county issues curfew.
5 hours ago - Sports

Washington Redskins to review team name amid public pressure

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins have announced they will be conducting a review of the team's name after mounting pressure from the public and corporate sponsors.

Why it matters: This review is the first formal step the Redskins are taking since the debate surrounding the name first began. It comes after weeks of discussions between the team and the NFL, the team said.