Iodine during Pregnancy


Many neonatal vitamins don’t contain iodine, but a recent study suggests that they should. The study, conducted by the George Washington University School of Medicine suggests that many American women are deficient in iodine, a nutrient which is critical for babies’ brain, thyroid, and neurological development.

It is critical that expectant and breastfeeding mothers maintain adequate iodine levels. Even small deficiencies in mothers’ iodine levels have been linked to lower IQs in their children. Iodine deficiency also carries additional risks to mother and baby, including:

  • Maternal goiter
  • Fetal goiter
  • Increased risk of pregnancy loss
  • Increased risk of infant mortality
  • Thyroid problems for mother and infant

Ensuring Adequate Iodine Intake

The human body does not naturally produce iodine, but the element is important to the health of both mothers and babies. Iodine must be ingested in the form of food or vitamin supplements to reach suggested intake levels.

The easiest way to ensure that your iodine levels are sufficient during pregnancy and breastfeeding is to take a neonatal vitamin which includes iodine. Alternately, you can supplement with iodine tablets. Iodine also occurs naturally in many types of food. Particularly good food sources of iodine include:

  • Cranberries
  • Kelp
  • Yogurt
  • Beans (especially navy beans)
  • Potatoes (especially with skin on)
  • Dairy products

Experts recommend at least 150 micrograms of iodine for women who are pregnant, nursing, or who expect to become pregnant. Many pregnant women do not take iodine supplements.

Talk with Your Health Care Provider

If you aren’t sure whether your iodine intake level is sufficient, discuss it with your health care provider or nutritionist. Even if your insurance doesn’t cover neonatal vitamins with iodine, you can obtain iodine supplements from health food stores relatively inexpensively. Prices for a month’s supply of iodine supplements generally range from $3 to $25. As with any supplement, check with your doctor before choosing which iodine supplement is best for you during your pregnancy.

In addition to seeking recommendations regarding iodine supplements, you should consider speaking with a nutritionist about additional types of food which are high in iodine and can be incorporated into your regular diet. As with most nutrients, it is best to get as much of the recommended iodine as possible through diet.


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