Industry, Public Health Organizations Join Together to Raise Awareness, Help Ensure Adequate Iodine Intake in Pregnant and Lactating Women

Washington, D.C., August 13, 2015—All pregnant and lactating women should supplement their diet with a daily multivitamin that contains 150 mcg of iodine, according to a recent article published in Natural Medicine Journal1, authored by three scientists at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). This science-based recommendation is supported by the American Thyroid Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Furthermore, the August 10 online issue of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal runs a compelling article2with new data revealing the enormous societal cost savings (in iodine deficient countries such as the UK) and health benefits of iodine supplements for pregnant and lactating women. Kate Jolly, a co-author of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology paper and Professor of Public Health at the University of Birmingham in the UK, crystallizes the jarring impact of iodine deficiency in a press release issued by the journal:

“Iodine deficiency in pregnancy remains the leading cause of preventable retardation worldwide. Even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with children with lower IQs. It’s time for all women living in iodine deficient countries without universal supplementation of iodine, who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy to be advised to take a daily supplement containing iodine.” 

“This is a public health issue that must not be ignored,” notes Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN.  “In the U.S., there is a growing concern about iodine deficiency in this population. We need to act now.” 

Adds Dr. MacKay, “Scientific evidence supports iodine’s role in healthy brain development in utero and during early childhood, however, many U.S. adult women of childbearing age may be iodine-deficient, putting their unborn children at risk for irreversible brain damage and other neurological abnormalities.” Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) suggests that iodine intake has decreased over the past several decades, with the percentage of women of childbearing age with iodine deficiency rising from four to 15 percent3. Ensuring sufficient iodine intake in this population is an important public health goal in the U.S.   

This past January, CRN released recommended guidelines for the dietary supplement industry urging manufacturers to include a daily serving of at least 150 mcg of iodine in all multivitamin/mineral supplements intended for pregnant and lactating women in the U.S. 

Health care providers play a key role in helping prevent iodine deficiency in pregnant and lactating women. Says Dr. MacKay, “We urge clinicians to support public health efforts to ensure adequate iodine intake in pregnancy and lactation by urging that any prenatal dietary supplement product they recommend contains a daily serving of at least 150 mcg of iodine.” The paper published in Natural Medicine Journal underscores that healthy growth and development of fetuses and breastfed infants are dependent on sufficient maternal intake of iodine.

The paper, titled “Iodine Supplementation During Pregnancy and Lactation,” was co-authored by Dr. MacKay; Andrea Wong, Ph.D., vice president scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN; and Haiuyen Nguyen, associate director, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN.  

CRN member companies are expected to be in compliance with the CRN recommended guidelines for iodine quantity in multivitamin/mineral supplements for pregnancy and lactation within 12 months of the Jan. 27, 2015, release date. The iodine guidelines are just one of a suite of proactive, science-based guidelines CRN developed as part of its self-regulatory initiatives.

1. MacKay D, Wong A, Nguyen H.  Iodine supplementation during pregnancy and lactation. A collaborative public health initiative in the United States. Nat Med J. 2015; 7(7). 
2. Monahan M, Boelaert K, Jolly K, Chan S, Barton P, Roberts TE. Costs and benefits of iodine supplementation for pregnant women in a mildly to moderately iodine-deficient population: a modelling analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2015; published online Aug 10.
3. Leung AM, Pearce EN, Braverman LE. Iodine nutrition in pregnancy and lactation. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2011;40(4):765-777.

Note to Editor: The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing 150+ dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. Visit Follow us on Twitter @crn_supplements and @wannabewell and on Facebook.