Many women of reproductive age in the United States are marginally iodine deficient, perhaps because the salt in processed foods is not iodized. Iodine deficiency, per se, can interfere with normal brain development in their offspring; in addition, it increases vulnerability to the effects of certain environmental pollutants, such as nitrate, thiocyanate, and perchlorate. Although pregnant and lactating women should take a supplement containing adequate iodide, only about 15% do so. Such supplements, however, may not contain enough iodide and may not be labeled accurately. The American Thyroid Association recommends that pregnant and lactating women take a supplement with adequate iodide. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pregnant and lactating women also avoid exposure to excess nitrate, which would usually occur from contaminated well water, and thiocyanate, which is in cigarette smoke. Perchlorate is currently a candidate for regulation as a water pollutant. The Environmental Protection Agency should proceed with appropriate regulation, and the Food and Drug Administration should address the mislabeling of the iodine content of prenatal/lactation supplements.
For the full AAP policy statement on iodine deficiencies, please click here.