BioCeuticals Article

Fortified bread not enough: pregnant women need iodine supplements

Fortified bread not enough: pregnant women need iodine supplements
Date: 2013-12-05
Author: - Editor
Access: Public

New data suggests that pregnant women are unlikely to obtain a sufficient iodine intake to meet their needs – and those of their developing babies – through dietary measures alone, even after the mandatory iodine fortification of bread was instituted in late 2009.1

In the study, researchers analysed the iodine status of 196 South Australian women throughout their pregnancy and six months postpartum. The average iodine levels for those not taking a supplement were in the mildly deficient range (less than 90mcg/L), while women who took a supplement were within recommendations (150-249mcg/L) for sufficiency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Similar results have been reported in other Australian states, indicating that Australian women are iodine deficient and that this deficiency has not been resolved by mandatory fortification of bread with iodised salt.

These findings are highly significant as even a mild deficiency during pregnancy may have an adverse impact on neurocognitive development. This was recently demonstrated in two separates studies from the United Kingdom and the University of Tasmania.

British researchers observed that children of women with an iodine deficiency were more likely to have scores in the lowest quartile for verbal IQ at eight years of age, and reading accuracy and comprehension at nine years of age than were those of mothers who were iodine replete.2

Similarly, researchers from the University of Tasmania found that nine year old children whose mothers had urinary iodine concentration of less than 150mcg/L exhibited reduced spelling, grammar and English-literacy performance. What is more, sufficient iodine intake during childhood was not enough to reverse the adverse effects of deficiency during the gestational period.3

This data suggests that women should consider using an iodine-containing multi-nutrient supplement during pregnancy to improve their iodine concentrations.



1.Clifton VL, Hondyl NA, Fogarty PA, et al. The impact of iodine supplementation and bread fortification on urinary iodine concentrations in a mildly iodine deficient population of pregnant women in South Australia. Nutr J 2013;12:32.

2.Bath SC, Steer CD, Golding J, et al. Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Lancet 2013 May 22;382(9889):331-337.

3.Hynes KL, Otahal P, Hay I, et al. Mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with reduced educational outcomes in the offspring: 9-year follow-up of the gestational iodine cohort. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013;98(5):1954-1962.