First it was iron, now it's iodine. A new statement by the Academy of Pediatrics shows that almost one in three women has an iodine deficiency. Pediatricians are now recommending mothers add iodine supplements to their diet.

"This is the first time that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement on iodine," said Dr. Jerome Paulson, medical director for national and global affairs at the Children's National Health System, in a press release.

Iodine produces the thyroid hormone, which aids in the development of the brain in newborn babies. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it comes from iodized salt, which is not normally found in the processed foods common in American diets. The Nutrition Journal reports that iodine can also be found in dairy products.  

The statement reveals that only a small percentage of pregnant women take iodine supplements. Researchers discovered that only 15 percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women currently take iodine supplements — that's concerning. 

"It may be that most people don't appreciate the importance of adequate iodine in the diet for normal fetal development and that the women with marginal levels have no indication of their iodine status," Paulson said.

The report also says that severe iodine deficiency can stunt physical and mental growth, proving that supplements are a key component to giving birth to healthy babies. Iodine is also contributed to protecting babies from environmental hazards. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), iodine is one of the most important minerals for cognitive development for the fetus. The agency says that an alarming 38 million babies are born with a risk of iodine deficiency and two billion people have an iodine deficiency. Iodine is also credited with raising IQs.

The Academy of Pediatrics recommends pregnant women take a minimum of 150 micrograms of iodide, and use iodized table salt. Food and supplements combined should be around 290 to 1,100 micrograms a day. Doctors prefer pregnant women take supplements in potassium iodine form. 

Mothers-to-be are encouraged to talk to their doctors about taking iodide supplements. Women on a vegan diet might lack iodine found in fish and dairy, and might consider getting a urine test to check for deficiency. If you think you might have a deficiency, Psychology Today says symptoms to look out for include breast cysts or breast tenderness, unexplained fatigue, thyroid disease, and body temperatures under 98 degrees.

The statement hopes to prevent iron deficiency and its consequences, and further encourages women to start taking their iodine supplements for healthier babies and mothers.

 

Source: The American Academy of Pediatrics. Iodine Deficiency, Pollutant Chemicals, and the Thyroid: New Information on an Old Problem. Pediatrics. 2014.