Australian infants deficient in iodine

Before reading this report, please remember not to self-prescribe.  Qualified natural health practitioners are trained in assessing nutritional needs and are able to prescribe quality products. Too much iodine is also bad for you – so be assessed by a professional.

All infants born in Australia should be screened for iodine deficiency, say Victorian researchers who recently found the problem to be worryingly prevalent in their state.1

Iodine is essential for cognitive development and even a moderate deficiency, prenatally or in later childhood, can significantly lower IQ; meanwhile, goitre and hypothyroidism are additional risks at any age.

Evidence of widespread iodine deficiency in Australians has emerged in recent decades with less iodised salt consumption and changed agricultural and food production practices, resulting in the implementation of mandatory fortification of bread products last year.

However, there was no comprehensive data on newborns’ iodine levels prior to fortification until this study, which was coincidentally being completed as the debate on fortification continued.

Monash University researchers reviewed thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) data for all babies born in Victoria between 2001 and 2006 and found that the percentage with levels suggestive of iodine deficiency (>5 mIU/L) ranged from 4.07% in 2001 to 9.65% in 2006.

In fact, all area health services in Victoria showed increasing iodine deficiency over the study period, especially in metropolitan areas.

“The Victorian population is iodine-deficient according to WHO, UNICEF and ICCIDD criteria,” warned the study team, who added that the findings were consistent with those from similar but more confined Australian studies.

The data would be useful to compare with iodine levels post-fortification and the researchers suggested it be collected from TSH test results that are nationally used to screen pregnant women for congenital diseases in their babies.

“This offers an additional advantage of being able to detect potential iodine deficiency ‘hot spots’ using the birth hospital postcode as a locator,” concluded the researchers.

 1 Rahman A, Savige GS, Deacon NJ, et al. Increased iodine deficiency in Victoria, Australia. Med J Aust 2010;193:503–5

More information on iodine and its importance are presented in this report.