Increased iodine intake essential for pregnancy and breastfeeding

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 16th June 2010

Health experts have advised women who are pregnant or breastfeeding that they need to ensure they get enough iodine.

Recent findings from the National Iodine Nutrition Survey showed that much of the Australian population is mildly iodine deficient.

Mandatory fortification of bread with iodine has recently been introduced, but Dr John Burgess of the Tasmanian Ministerial Thyroid Committee said that while the measures were excellent for the general population, they do not provide enough iodine for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Burgess, along with Director of Public Health Dr Roscoe Taylor, endorsed the NHMRC’s recommendation that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or considering pregnancy, take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms each day.

Burgess and Taylor believed iodine deficiency might be related to less use of household iodised salt, increased commercial use of non-iodised salt and reduced use of iodine-based cleaning products by the dairy industry.

Iodine is particularly important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to ensure normal development of the brain and nervous system in babies and young children

Burgess said that iodine deficiency during pregnancy and breastfeeding could have a negative affect on the brain and nervous system of infants and children and result in a lower IQ.