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Iodine Supplements Critical During Pregnancy

It is one supplement you won’t hear much about. Yet it is one of the most critical. In fact, it is so critical that it is now routinely added to table salt in the US and other countries. We are talking about good old and unpretentious iodine. Pregnant women should pay closer attention to this as it is critical (that word again) to the normal development of the baby.

Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, professor of medicine and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), is the paper’s lead author. Elizabeth Pearce, MD, MSc, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), serves as co-author on the paper. The authors hope to start a conversation in the healthcare community on how to better protect the health of mothers and their children.

“Iodine levels in the US have been decreasing, which has the potential to negatively impact the mother and unborn child,” said Stagnaro-Green. “It’s time for all healthcare professionals to make sure that every pregnant and breast-feeding woman gets supplemental iodine during pregnancy and while they are breast-feeding.”

Iodine, which is not naturally made in the human body, must be consumed through foods rich in the element or through supplements. Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormone, and adequate thyroid hormone levels are critical for normal fetal neurodevelopment. National and international health organizations currently recommend that pregnant women take at least 150 µg of potassium iodide daily.

“There is concern that even mild iodine deficiency in pregnant women could lead to children with lower IQ’s,” said Pearce. Iodine deficiency remains the leading cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. Other risks of iodine deficiency include maternal and fetal goiter and increased pregnancy loss and infant mortality. See original story

It is surprising that pre-natal vitamin supplements would be lacking such an important micronutrient. Quality multivitamin supplements typically contain it. Iodine deficiency is still considered rare in the US, but levels may be decreasing, according to the article quoted above. Good sources of this nutrient, besides iodized salt, include vegetables grown in iodine-rich soils, seafood and seaweeds.

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