Adequate Iodine Essential for Moms

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need sufficient iodine from diet and supplements

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Taking prenatal vitamins is important for all pregnant and breastfeeding women. But even these supplements may not give women enough iodine.

A recent policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reviewed the importance of adequate iodine intake for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Many women do not get enough iodine, which can be found in yogurt, milk, baked potatoes, iodized salt, cod, shrimp, lobster, cranberries, baked turkey breast and sea vegetables such as seaweed and kelp.

The AAP statement recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take daily supplements that contain at least 150 μg of iodide.

"Ask your pediatrician or OB/GYN about taking supplements with iodine."

This policy statement was authored by the AAP's Council on Environmental Health. 

The council noted the importance of iodine, which is used to produce thyroid hormone in the human body.

Sufficient iodine for adequate thyroid production is particularly important for pregnant women and their newborns because the hormone is important to brain development.

Approximately one-third of pregnant women in the US are "marginally iodine deficient," the council noted in the statement, perhaps in part because processed foods are prepared with non-iodized salt.

Women who are breastfeeding are recommended to consume 290 μg of iodide daily, which generally means getting about 150 μg from supplements.

However, the council noted that only about 15 to 20 percent of women who are pregnant or breast-feeding take supplements with sufficient iodide.

In addition, exposure to certain compounds in the environment, particularly nitrate and thiocyanate, can make iodine deficiency worse.

Nitrate can be found in contaminated well water and in some leafy and root vegetables.

Thiocyanate can be found in tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, and in cruciferous vegetables, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, radishes and watercress.

The council therefore made several recommendations. One recommends that breastfeeding mothers use iodized table salt and take a supplement including at least 150 μg of iodide.

Combined iodide intake for breastfeeding mothers should be between 290 to 1,100 μg per day.

Iodide can be consumed through dairy and fish products as well, so women who are vegan or don't consume dairy or fish may want to have their urine tested for iodide deficiency.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding women should also avoid excess nitrate, which may mean having well water annually checked, and avoid tobacco smoke.

This statement was published May 26 in the journal Pediatrics. The statement did not require external funding, and committee member disclosures were not provided.

Review Date: 
May 25, 2014
Last Updated:
May 27, 2014