Iodine needs during pregnancy

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Iodine is essential for the development of the baby’s thyroid gland and is found in fish, seafood, and most vegetables.

There is a bit of controversy around iodine because the American Thyroid Association has recommended to all pregnant and breastfeeding women in the U.S. daily supplements containing 150 mcg iodine.

However, only 51 percent of U.S. prenatal multivitamins contain iodine according to a study conducted by researchers at Boston University Medical Center.

“Normal thyroid function in fetuses and breast-fed infants, which is dependent on sufficient intake of iodine, is crucial for a child’s normal neurocognitive development,” said Elizabeth N. Pearce, MD, assistant professor of medicine, in a research letter appearing in the February 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 360, No. 9).

“Even mild iodine deficiency may have adverse effects on the cognitive function of children,” said Dr. Pearce. “The measured iodine content of multivitamins with kelp as the iodine source was extremely variable, and often did not match labeled values,” said Dr. Pearce. “Prenatal multivitamins containing potassium iodine were a more reliable source.”

The iodine content of prenatal vitamins is not mandated in the U.S., noted the researchers, who suggest that manufacturers of prenatal vitamins in the U.S. should be encouraged to ensure that their products contain the amount of iodine recommended by the American Thyroid Association and to use only potassium iodine – which contains 76 percent iodine – to maintain consistency in iodine content.



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