Iodine deficiency may reduce pregnancy chances, NIH study suggests

Women with moderate to severe iodine deficiency may take longer to achieve a pregnancy, compared to women with normal iodine levels, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The study is the first to investigate the potential effects of mild to moderate iodine deficiency — common among women in the United States and the United Kingdom — on the ability to become pregnant. It appears in the latest edition of Human Reproduction.

Iodine is a mineral used by the body to regulate metabolism. It also helps regulate bone growth and brain development in children. It is found in seafood, iodized salt, dairy products, and some fruits and vegetables. Severe iodine deficiency has long been known to cause intellectual and developmental delays in infants.

“Our findings suggest that women who are thinking of becoming pregnant may need more iodine,” said James L. Mills, M.D., who conducted the study along with colleagues at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the New York State Department of Health in Albany. “Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy, and the fetus depends on this mineral to make thyroid hormone and to ensure normal brain development.”

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This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022