Pregnant women should take an iodide-containing supplement to protect the brain development of their babies, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health.
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, since about half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
People typically get the iodine they need from table salt, which in North America is fortified with iodide. Eating processed foods exposes Americans to salt that is not iodized, however.
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.
Breastfeeding mothers are also recommended to take a supplement that includes at least 150 micrograms of iodide and use iodized table salt.
Additionally, the Council says women may need to be tested for iodine deficiency if they are vegan or don’t eat fish.
Experts say the ideal amount of iodide supplementation depends on how much of the mineral women already get from their diets.
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.
The new report 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 hormones.
Source: Pediatrics, online May 26, 2014.
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