Iodine deficiency has become more common in the community.
It is thought due to most households (more than 80 per cent) not using iodised edible salt and also the food industry rarely uses iodised salt. As well in the dairy industry iodine-containing sanitisers (iodophores) nave been replaced by chlorine-based compounds. It is reported as milk and milk-based products have been the major source of iodine in our diets since the early 1960s, iodine intake has more than halved over the past decade.
What is the possible impact of iodine deficiency in pregnancy?
Iodine deficiency in the mother can result in under activity of her thyroid gland and thyroid swelling (called a goiter). This can result in decreased maternal levels of thyroxine hormone production which can be dangerous for your baby and even cause brain damage including preventable intellectual impairment. In areas where iodine deficiency is severe, psychomotor deficits, hearing impairment, and even attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Cretinism is where there is very serious retardation of physical and mental development and can be caused by a severe maternal nutritional deficiency of iodine.
What can be done about it?
Your iodine level can be checked by a random urine specimen, ideally collected as a midmorning specimen. In spite of the potential implications of iodine deficiency in pregnancy the Federal Government has not agreed to iodine level checking having a Medicare rebate, so you will need to pay for this test yourself. It is a good idea to get it checked before you are pregnant
If your level is low you should take iodine supplements. The optimal intake is 200 μg per day.
Whether on not your level is low you are wise to choose a pregnancy supplement that contains Iodine. Elevit and Blackmores pregnancy supplements do. The best dietary source of iodine is seafood and seaweed. Kelp tablets are a type of seaweed extract and can provide an alternative iodine source.
As well there are iodine supplements such as Iodine-Folate available through Blackmores. There are other choices often in health food shops