The Adverse Effects of Mild-to-Moderate Iodine Deficiency during Pregnancy and Childhood: A Review

M.B. Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones, which are essential for normal brain development, and the fetus, newborn, and young child are particularly vulnerable to iodine deficiency. The iodine requirement increases during pregnancy and recommended intakes are in the range of 220¿250 ¿g/day. Monitoring iodine status during pregnancy is a challenge. New recommendations from World Health Organization suggest that a median urinary iodine concentration between 150 and 250 mcg/L indicates adequate iodine intake in pregnancy. Based on this range, it appears that many pregnant women in Western Europe have inadequate intakes. A recent Swiss study has suggested that thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration in the newborn is a sensitive indicator of mild iodine deficiency in late pregnancy. The potential adverse effects of mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy are uncertain. Controlled trials of iodine supplementation in mildly iodine-deficient pregnant women suggest beneficial effects on maternal and newborn serum thyroglobulin and thyroid volume, but no effects on maternal and newborn total or free thyroid hormone concentrations. There are no long-term data on the effect of iodine supplementation on birth outcomes or infant development. New data from well-controlled studies indicate that iodine repletion in moderately iodine-deficient school-age children has clear benefits: it improves cognitive and motor function; it also increases concentrations of insulin-like growth factor 1 and insulin-like growth factor¿binding protein 3, and improves somatic growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-835
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • growth-factor-i
  • binding protein-3 levels
  • endemic goiter area
  • thyroid-function
  • mental performance
  • controlled-trial
  • hormone-binding
  • school-children
  • factors igfs
  • supplementation


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