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Iodine Deficiency Still a Concern in Pregnant Women

14 May 2011

Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding negatively affects brain and nervous system of the unborn infants, particularly reduced IQ.  Despite recent legislation changes to make iodine fortification in bread mandatory across Australia since 2009, a recent study found that many women still aren’t getting enough iodine during pregnancy.

Researchers at Monash University conducted a cross-sectional study to assess iodine status and the factors that influence iodine status among a cohort of pregnant women living in Gippsland, Victoria.
86 pregnant women (at = 28 weeks’ gestation) attending antenatal care services participated in the study.

Urinary Iodine Concentration (UIC) > 150 µg/L is considered an indication of iodine sufficiency.  The study found that the percentage of pregnant women with UIC >150 µg/L was 28%.  17% of pregnant women were severely deficient at below 50 µg/L.  There was no statistically significant difference in UICs before and since iodine fortification of bread.  The UICs before and after fortification were at around 96 µg/L.  The dietary intake of iodine-rich food (including bread) and the use of appropriate supplements were insufficient to meet the increased iodine requirements during pregnancy.

The study has shown that more than 70% of women in Gippsland, Victoria, during their third trimester were iodine deficient, and such deficiency seem unlikely to be improved by the national iodine fortification program.  Pregnant women in Gippsland urgently need effective iodine education programs and encouragement to either consume iodine-rich foods or take appropriate supplements.  NHMRC guideline recommends that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy take an iodine supplement of 150 mcg daily.

Ashequr Rahman et al. MJA 2011; 194 (5): 240-243

One Response

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