Iodine supplementation during pregnancy

Posted on May 27, 2014

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Pregnant and breast-feeding women should seek out prenatal supplements that contain iodine, an element that is crucial to healthy brain development and may be lacking in their diets, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a report.

Iodine consumption has fallen over the last few decades. About one-third of pregnant women have a mild iodine deficiency, the report says.

women should seek out supplements that contain at least 150 micrograms of iodide, a source of iodine easily absorbed by the body. That, combined with dietary intake, should bring iodine consumption to the recommended 220 micrograms for pregnant women or 290 micrograms for breast-feeding women, the daily amounts recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Good dietary sources of iodine include dairy products, seafood and iodized salt.

The increase in mild iodine deficiency may have happened because of increased consumption of processed foods, which generally contain noniodized salt, said the report, which appears online in the journal Pediatrics.

Iodine is necessary to produce thyroid hormone, which in turn helps the brain develop. A severely iodine-deficient fetus or infant can suffer irreversible mental retardation. The concern is that mild deficiency in a mother may cause slightly decreased intelligence in her child, said Elizabeth Pearce, an endocrinologist and associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine who helped develop the American Thyroid Association’s recommendations.

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