Pregnant mother and Iodine deficiency
Iodine is an element that is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones. It isn't something our bodies can make, so we must consume it. If you don't have enough iodine in your body, thyroid function can be impacted.
Is Iodine important during pregnancy?
Thyroid hormone regulates many of our hormones and vital body functions such as: Heart rate, Breathing, Body weight, Cholesterol levels, menstrual cycles, Nervous systems, Body temperature. These functions and hormone regulation are important during fetal development. Children born to mothers with mild to moderate iodine deficiencies are at risk for cognitive and motor impairment. Goiter, known for causing a large swelling of the neck where the thyroid gland is located, is typical of severe iodine deficiency. Prolonged deficiency can cause thyroid hormone production to dip or dry up altogether. Mild iodine deficiency can also cause tiredness, weight gain, achy muscles, brittle nails and dry skin.
But the real problem is in pregnancy, so why is iodine so important at this time? Iodine is essential for building a healthy brain, skeleton and metabolism. During the first 14-16 weeks of pregnancy, a foetus is entirely dependent on the mother for its supply of thyroid hormone. If she is deficient in iodine and thyroid hormone both during pregnancy and during pre-conception, the baby risks mental impairment. Severe iodine deficiency can lead to the extreme disability known as cretinism.
Are women in Bangladesh Iodine deficient?
Yes, at least - mild to moderately so, but this is enough to put the foetus at serious risk of brain abnormalities and low IQ. The World Health Organization (WHO), as well as other public health organizations, state iodine levels of pregnant mothers should be 150 to 249 ?g/L. The WHO, American Thyroid Association, European Thyroid Association and the Endocrine Society recommend for women who are planning to conceive, are pregnant or lactating take a daily iodine supplement of 150 ?g.
Food source of Iodine: While the levels of iodine can vary from one sample of the same food to another, these foods are sources of iodine: Seaweed such as kelp, nori and dulci, Saltwater fish, Shellfish, Iodised table salt (not all table salt is iodised, be sure to check the label), Soy sauce, Soy milk, Eggs, Dairy products such as yogurt and milk (if you consume dairy, choose full fat), while these foods contain iodine, recent studies seem to support the need for iodine supplements, in addition to consuming foods naturally containing iodine. So the pregnant women should have a concern about the baby's health need to ask the doctor about her iodine status and requirements for evaluation and treatment.
Should pregnant women take iodine supplements?
Experts argue that in countries with iodine deficiency, such as in the UK, taking an iodine supplement is the most convenient way of consuming sufficient levels, especially during pregnancy. Sourcing it from the diet alone "would require a woman to eat unrealistically large amounts of fish", says Professor Lazarus. The WHO recommends that if iodised salt is scarce, "vulnerable groups, pregnant and lactating women, should be supplemented with iodine". The recommended levels are 250µg per day during pregnancy and breast-feeding, otherwise 120µg per day. Currently, there is no Bangladesh government recommendation.