Stronger than ever
Within your baby’s lungs, the air sacs and blood vessels needed for normal breathing are continuing to develop. In fact, they are developed enough in week 24 of pregnancy that if your baby were to be born now, they would have a chance of surviving with the support of a neonatal unit. Iodine-rich foods, like milk, continue to support cognitive function.
Your baby's development at 24 weeks
Developing healthy lungs in week 24
At around 21cm1 long from crown to rump, and 600g (around 1lb 3oz)1,2 in weight, your baby is now looking more like a newborn, just on a much smaller scale3. In week 24 of pregnancy, they already have all the facial features you will see when they’re born, including eyebrows and eyelashes2. There may even be wisps of hair on their head2
Although your baby is now too big to be quite as acrobatic as before, they still have a very tactile relationship with their surroundings and you’ll continue to feel them move, stretch, roll and kick.
Neonatal care units are so well equipped and technologically advanced that babies born in week 24 of pregnancy have a chance of survival. Before this point their lungs and organs weren't developed enough to support them, even with the help of expert medical care4. Read our article to find out more about caring for a premature baby.
The gift of future health
Iodine for ideas
Iodine supports your baby’s cognitive function5. It also helps make your thyroid hormones6, which regulate your metabolism and keep your cells healthy7. Because of this, it should form an essential part of your balanced diet for the entire duration of your pregnancy.
Most people can get all the iodine they need from eating healthily. However, according to some recent research, many young women in the UK aren’t getting enough iodine in their diet8.
One important UK-based study showed that children born to mothers who were iodine deficient during pregnancy had poorer cognitive outcomes compared to children born to mothers who had a healthy intake5. Studies like this have led experts to suggest that iodine is more important in pregnancy than was previously thought5.
All women need at least 0.14mg of iodine a day9. If you’re worried about your iodine levels, speak to your doctor or midwife who may suggest taking supplements.
Include the following iodine-rich foods in your diet10:
- Milk and dairy products
- Sea fish e.g. cod and haddock (avoid shark, swordfish and marlin)
- Other pregnancy-safe seafood
- Dried seaweed
You could also replace regular salt with iodised salt.
1. Deans A. Your New Pregnancy Bible, The experts’ guide to pregnancy and early parenthood. 4th ed. London: Carroll & Brown Publishers Limited, 2013. p. 42.
2. Murkoff H, Mazel S. What to Expect When You’re Expecting. 4th ed. London: Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2009. p. 261.
3. Curtis, GB, Schuler, J. Your pregnancy week by week. Cambridge: Fisher books, 2011, p. 343.
4. NHS UK. You and your baby at 21-24 weeks pregnant [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/pregnancy-weeks-21-22-23-24.aspx [Accessed July 2014]
5. Bath SC et al Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Lancet 2013;382(9889):331-7.
6. European Union. Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health. OJ L 136 2012;1-40.
7. NHS UK. Vitamins and Minerals-Iodine [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Iodine.aspx[Accessed April 2014]
8. Vanderpump MP et al. Iodine status of UK schoolgirls: a cross-sectional survey. Lancet 2011;377(9782):2007-12.
9. Department of Health. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London: TSO, 1991.
10. Gandy J (ed). Manual of Dietetic Practice. 5th ed. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2014. p. 759.reference text
Last reviewed: 14th July 2016
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.