MONDAY, May 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many pregnant and
breast-feeding women are deficient in iodine and should take a
daily supplement containing iodide, according to a leading group of
Iodine, generally obtained from iodized salt, produces thyroid
hormone, an essential component for normal brain development in the
But as consumption of processed foods has increased, so has
iodine deficiency because the salt in processed foods is not
iodized, according to a policy statement from the American Academy
"This is the first time that the American Academy of Pediatrics
has issued a statement on iodine," said Dr. Jerome Paulson, medical
director for national and global affairs at the Children's National
Health System and chair of the academy's Council on Environmental
About one-third of pregnant women in the United States are
iodine-deficient, according to background information in the
article published online May 26 and in the June print issue of the
Currently, only about 15 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding
women take supplements containing iodide, the researchers said.
Supplemental iodine is usually in the form of potassium iodide or
sodium iodide, according to the U.S. National Library of
Severe iodine deficiency is associated with stunted physical and
mental growth, and even marginal iodine deficiency can decrease
brain functioning, the report said.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women should take a supplement that
includes at least 150 micrograms of iodide, and use iodized table
salt, the academy said. Combined intake from food and supplements
should be 290 to 1,100 micrograms a day. Potassium iodide is the
preferred form, the doctors said.
Besides boosting brain development, iodine also appears to help
protect babies from certain environmental harms.
The policy statement includes a recommendation to shield
newborns from well water containing excessive nitrates and from
cigarette smoke, both of which can harm the thyroid.
Why so few women take iodide supplements isn't clear, said
Paulson. "It may be that most people don't appreciate the
importance of adequate iodine in the diet for normal fetal
development and that the women with marginal levels have no
indication of their iodine status," he said. Iodine deficiency
displays no symptoms.
Women thinking of getting pregnant can ask their doctor about
iodide supplements, Paulson said. According to the report, a woman
who is vegan or doesn't eat fish or dairy -- two food sources of
iodine -- can ask about having a urine test to check for iodine
Warning that supplement labels are misleading, the academy says
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should ensure that makers of
prenatal vitamins use only potassium iodide and correct
inconsistent labeling so that women understand what they are
Women don't usually think about iodine deficiency, agreed Erin
Corrigan, clinical nutrition manager at Miami Children's Hospital,
who was not involved in the study. "I don't think it's on the top
of the list for women for nutrients," she said. "We keep in mind
folic, calcium and vitamin D."
Her patients are told to make sure their prenatal vitamin
contains sufficient iodide and to continue taking it while they
To learn more about iodine intake, visit the
American Thyroid Association.