Harmful Iodine Deficiencies Reported in Pregnant Women

February 3, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Despite efforts to fortify table salt with iodine, a new study posits that pregnant women are still seeing significant iodine deficiencies that can negatively impact their unborn children's brains.

Despite efforts to fortify table salt with iodine, a new study posits that pregnant women are still seeing significant iodine deficiencies that can negatively impact their unborn children’s brains.

The research, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that even mild iodine deficiency could impair embryonic brain development.

The findings aligned with those of another recent study that showed American women of reproductive age had marginal iodine deficiencies, which the authors surmised might be due to the fact that salt in processed foods is not iodized.

That previous research, published in Pediatrics, also pointed out that a lack of iodine could mean increased vulnerability to environmental pollutants, such as nitrate, thicyanate, and perchlorate.

The authors recommended that pregnant and lactating women take a supplement with adequate iodine, which only 15% currently do.

In the current study, only 13.8% of pregnant women met the recommended iodine consumption range of 150 μg/l to 259 μg/l. On average, urinary iodine concentration (UCI) among the women was 87 μg/l.

Even though 79 women in the study were taking iodine supplements, their UCI was still below the recommended range.

“This study shows that pregnant women in the Vienna area have a potentially clinically significant iodine deficiency and that currently recommended doses of iodine supplementation may not be sufficient,” the study authors concluded.

Foreign women were also involved in the study, and 137 of them had significantly higher iodine excretions compared with the Austrian women.