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Women Remain at Risk of Iodine Deficiency during Pregnancy: The Importance of Iodine Supplementation before Conception and Throughout Gestation

Hynes, Kristen L., Seal, Judy A., Otahal, Petr, Oddy, Wendy H., Burgess, John R.
Nutrients 2019 v.11 no.1
conception, fetus, iodine, iodine deficiency, pregnancy, pregnant women, risk reduction, Tasmania
In Australia, pregnant women are advised to take an iodine supplement (I-supp) (150 µg/day) to reduce risks to the foetus associated with iodine deficiency (ID). To examine the impact of this recommendation on iodine status, and to identify factors that contribute to adequacy during gestation, supplement use and Urinary Iodine Concentration (UIC) was measured in 255 pregnant women (gestation range 6 to 41 weeks) in Tasmania. The median UIC (MUIC) of 133 µg/L (Inter-quartile range 82–233) was indicative of ID, being below the 150–249 µg/L range for adequacy during pregnancy. Women taking an iodine-containing-supplement (I-supp) had a significantly higher MUIC (155 µg/L) (n = 171) compared to the combined MUIC (112.5 µg/L) (n = 84) of those who had never (120 µg/L) (n = 61) or were no longer taking an I-supp (90 µg/L) (n = 23) (p = 0.017). Among women reporting I-supp use, the MUIC of those commencing the recommended 150 µg/day prior to conception was significantly higher than those starting supplementation following pregnancy confirmation: 196 (98–315) µg/L (n = 45) versus 137.5 (82.5–233.5) µg/L (n = 124), p = 0.032. Despite recommendations for iodine supplementation pregnant Tasmanian women remain at risk of ID. Commencing an I-supp of 150 µg/day prior to conception and continuing throughout pregnancy is required to ensure adequacy. Timely advice regarding the importance of adequate iodine nutrition, including supplementation is needed to reduce the risk of irreversible in utero neurocognitive damage to the foetus.