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Doctors Warn Pregnant Woman about Iodine Deficiency

Update Date: May 26, 2014 12:42 PM EDT

According to the leading group of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), iodine deficiency can be quite common in pregnant women. In order to prevent this, the doctors recommend pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding to take a daily supplement with iodine.

"This is the first time that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement on iodine," said Dr. Jerome Paulson, medical director for national and global affairs at the Children's National Health System and chair of the academy's Council on Environmental Health.

Iodine is necessary for the production of a thyroid hormone, which is vital for a baby's brain development. Iodine is typically consumed from iodized salt, which can be found in many processed foods or in iodized salt. In the new report, researchers found that roughly one third of all pregnant women living in the United States have iron deficiency but only 15 percent of pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding take a daily supplement that contains iodine.

"Women who are childbearing age need to pay attention to this topic as well, because about half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned," Dr. Jerome Paulson said reported by Reuters. "Women in the early part of the pregnancy may not realize they're pregnant."

The AAP is now recommending pregnant and breast-feeding women to take a daily supplement that contains at least 150 micrograms of iodide. These groups of women should also use iodized table salt when cooking. Overall, daily iodide intake should range from 290 to 1,100 micrograms per day.

The pediatricians stated that following these recommendations is important because iodine helps with brain development. Evidence has also suggested that iodine can protect babies from the harmful environmental side effects. The doctors added that iodine deficiency could lead to stunted mental and physical growth.

"This is something that's fairly routine," Paulson added. "I think what we're saying is people need to pay attention to the details of what they're doing, but not radically change their behavior."

The report was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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