A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that pregnant women and nursing mothers in the U.S. and Canada may not realize the importance of getting enough iodine in their diets.
Iodine deficiencies can lead to serious negative effects on the health of mothers and their children. According to the study, iodine levels have been dipping in the diets of many North Americans, including pregnant and lactating mothers. Because of this, the article advocates the use of iodine supplements.
Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, which are essential for the proper brain development of fetuses and babies. In fact, iodine deficiency has been indicated to be the leading cause of developmental disorders. Even small drops in iodine levels over time can inhibit mental development. Other risks for pregnant women with iodine deficiencies include stillbirth and infant mortality.
Despite the need for iodine, it cannot be manufactured by the human body and must be ingested from outside sources. Pregnant women consume at least 150 micrograms (µg) of potassium iodide each day. Foods rich in iodine usually come from salt-water sources, and include seaweed, cod, shrimp, and tuna. Other good sources include potato skins, milk, turkey, and navy beans. Supplements are also readily available.
Unfortunately, the recent focus on the need for folic acid and other nutrients has obscured the need for iodine. The researchers estimated that only two in every 10 U.S. women take supplements that contain iodine, and they noted that many prenatal multivitamins do not contain it.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Pregnant, Lactating Women Need This Nutrient
Stagnaro-Green, A., et al., “Iodine Supplementation During Pregnancy and Lactation,” JAMA December 18, 2012; 308: 23.