July 18, 2012
Breastfeeding mothers lack knowledge about importance of iodine
Recent research has shown that breast feeding mothers have poor knowledge about the importance of iodine for their infant and the need for supplementation during pregnancy and lactation.
Iodine is a trace element important for the synthesis of thyroxin, the main regulator of metabolic rate. It is also important for the growth and maturation of the brain and skeleton. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and lactation can result in irreversible mental retardation, poor growth and deafness amongst other complications, in infants. Various reports have found iodine to be limiting in the diet. To rectifiy this, iodine supplements are recommeded during pregnancy and lactation and bread is now fortified with iodine, in the form of iodised salt.
The study looked at the knowledge and dietary practices of 60 breast feeding mothers.
The study found:-
- Mothers were unsure whether their diet contained enough iodine
- Only 15% thought lack of iodine would be a problem
- Only 25% had received information about the importance of iodine and taking iodine supplements while breastfeeding
- Mothers were unclear as to what health problems would be associated with lack of iodine
- 88% took supplements during pregnancy declining to 58% during breast feeding. However the supplements taken during breastfeeding contained only half the amount of iodine ( 75ug)recommended during breast feeding.
- Mean intake of iodine was 182ug of iodine per day ( Range: 70-396ug/day) taking into account iodine fortification of bread. However 60% of women had intakes below Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of iodine of 190ug/day.
- Main contributors to iodine in the diet were milk and bread
The study shows that mothers need more education about the importance of iodine in the diet, particularly during pregnancy and lactation. Paediatric health professionals should be advising pregnant and lactating mothers to take a supplement of 150ug iodine daily.
Axford S et al. Poor knowledge and dietary practices related to iodine in breastfeeding mothers a year after introduction of mandatory fortification. Nutrition & Dietetics (2012); 69:91-94
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