Does Iodine Deficiency Affect Pregnancy?

Iodine is an element that is found in small amounts in the human body and has one of the most important functions; that is the stimulation of the thyroid gland. This gland produces thyroid hormones which help in the performance of several vital functions such as development, growth, reproductive function and metabolism.There is an increased demand during early childhood and pregnancy. The human body has no role in the production of iodine and therefore we need to supply it through the diet. Iodine deficiency can cause certain serious conditions in the fetus during pregnancy.

How is Iodine related to Fetal Development

Iodine helps in the stimulus of thyroid hormones and these are responsible for the mental and physical growth of the fetus. This hormone production increases by 50% during pregnancy, so there is an increase in the demand for iodine to produce these hormones. If this need of iodine is not met, then it leads to certain developmental issues in the fetus, and can lead to irreversible and permanent damage of the brain.

How does Iodine Deficiency affect a Pregnant Woman

Women suffering with iodine deficiency are at a greater risk of thyroid problems like hypothyroidism and goiter.Other complications include stillbirths, miscarriages, premature births and babies born to mothers who have severe deficiency of iodine; this may lead to severe mental retardation. Hearing impairment and speech disorders are also commonly seen. If a small decrease in the iodine levels also occurs, even the intelligence quotient of the child is found to be reduced.

What are the causes of Deficiency in Pregnancy

Iodine deficiency is not a problem in developed countries as they meet their iodine needs through dietary sources. Iodine fortified salt and bread are the common sources rich in iodine content, but people living in certain areas in the world, suffer from this disorder. This is mostly seen in the poorer sections of society and occurs more in women than men.

What is the normal Intake of Iodine during Pregnancy

The WHO (World Health Organization) has set the iodine intake levelsfor pregnant women at 200 – 250 g/ day. If a woman takes less than the above levels, then she is at a greater risk of iodine deficiency disorders.

How to increase the Iodine intake during Pregnancy

Women should be cautious about their dietary pattern. The natural iodine is consumed by the aquatic plants and animals; seafood and seaweed are excellent sources of natural iodine. A woman can take vitamin supplements to meet the need for nutrients, but only after consulting her doctor. Cattle and poultry are fed fortified iodine foods, and dairy products and chicken are also considered iodine rich foods. Even if the iodine deficiency is in minor forms during pregnancy, it can cause certain irreversible problems in the child. Therefore, simple dietary changes can help you boost the iodine levels.

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