Iodine, which the body can get from iodide, is
needed to make the thyroid hormones that are required for children’s
brain development before and after birth.
“Women who are childbearing age need to pay attention to this topic
as well, because about half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are
unplanned,” Dr. Jerome Paulson said. “Women in the early part of the
pregnancy may not realize they’re pregnant.”
Paulson is the chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Council on Environmental Health, which authored the policy
statement. He is also a pediatrician at Children's National Medical
Center in Washington, D.C.
The recommendations were published in the journal Pediatrics on
People typically get the iodine they need from table salt, which in
the U.S. is fortified with iodide. Eating processed foods exposes
Americans to salt that is not iodized, however.
The Council writes that past research has suggested about one-third
of pregnant women in the U.S. are marginally iodine deficient. Also,
only about 15 percent of women take a supplement containing an
adequate amount of iodide.
The American Thyroid Association and the National Academy of
Sciences suggest pregnant and breastfeeding women get 290 micrograms
of iodide per day.
Women may need to take a supplement with 150 micrograms of iodide to
reach that recommended level, but most prenatal and lactation
vitamins contain less, according to the Council.
“Breastfeeding mothers should take a supplement that includes at
least 150 micrograms of iodide and use iodized table salt,” the
Additionally, the Council says women may need to be tested for
iodine deficiency if they are vegan or don’t eat fish.
“Obviously iodine is critical to the fetal and child brain,” Dr.
Loralei Thornburg said. “Therefore having a diet that’s rich in
iodine is critical.”
Thornburg was not involved in making the new recommendation. She is
a high-risk pregnancy expert at the University of Rochester Medical
Center in New York.
“Although many women are largely iodine deficient, most women do get
iodine in the (form) of food,” she told Reuters Health. “This isn’t
something women should freak out about just yet.”
Thornburg said the ideal amount of iodide supplementation depends on
how much of the compound women already get from their diets.
[to top of second column]
The Council says a pregnant or lactating woman’s combined iodide
intake should be between 290 and 1100 micrograms per day.
Specifically, it should be in the form of potassium iodide.
“This is something that’s fairly routine,” Paulson said. “I think
what we’re saying is people need to pay attention to the details of
what they’re doing, but not radically change their behavior.”
The authors also suggest pregnant or lactating women avoid nitrate,
found in contaminated well water, and thiocyanate, which is usually
found in cigarette smoke and certain vegetables like broccoli,
cauliflower and cabbage. The two chemicals can disrupt the ability
of iodine to be processed into hormones. However, women rarely eat
enough of the vegetables for thiocyanate levels from those sources
to be concerning, they note.
Finally, the Council recommends that the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency proceed with appropriate regulation of perchlorate
in waterways. Perchlorate, which is a chemical used in rocket fuels
and explosives, can disrupt the body’s use of iodine to make thyroid
“I think people can have some control over their exposure to tobacco
smoke, but they may not even be aware of the perchlorate or other
chemicals in the water,” Paulson said.
The Council also writes that there is some inconsistency between the
iodide on the label of supplements and their actual content. The
U.S. Food and Drug Administration should “do what is necessary to
allow consumers to identify and use iodide supplements with
confidence” if the industry’s actions are insufficient, it adds.
Pediatrics, online May 26, 2014.
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.