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Feto-maternal repercussions of iodine deficiency during pregnancy. An update


, : Feto-maternal repercussions of iodine deficiency during pregnancy. An update. Annales D'endocrinologie 64(1): 37-44

The main changes in thyroid function associated with the pregnant state are increased thyroid hormone requirements. These increased requirements can only be met by a proportional increase in hormone production, that directly depends upon the availability of dietary iodine. When the iodine intake is adequate, normal "physiological" adaptation takes place. When the intake is restricted, physiological adaptation is progressively replaced by pathological alterations, in parallel with the degree of iodine deprivation, leading to excessive glandular stimulation, hypothyroxinemia, and goiter formation. Thus, pregnancy acts typically as a revelator of underlying iodine restriction and gestation results in an iodine deficient status, even in conditions with only a moderately restricted iodine intake, characteristic of many European regions. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy has important repercussions for both mother and fetus, namely thyroid underfunction and goitrogenesis. Furthermore, iodine deficiency may be associated with alterations of the psychoneuro-intellectual outcome in the progeny. The risk of an abnormal progeny's development is further enhanced because mother and offspring are exposed to iodine deficiency, both during gestation and the postnatal period. Because iodine deficiency is still prevalent in many European regions and remains a subject of great concern, investigators have proposed, since several years, that iodine prophylaxis be introduced systematically during pregnancy, in order to provide mothers with an adequate iodine supply. In areas with a severe iodine deficiency, correcting the iodine lack has proved highly beneficial to prevent mental deficiency disorders. The many actions undertaken to eradicate severe iodine deficiency have allowed to prevent the occurrence of mental retardation in millions young infants throughout the world. In most public health programmes dealing with the correction of iodine deficiency disorders, iodized salt has been used as the preferred strategy in order to convey the iodine supplements to the household. Iodized salt, however, is not the ideal vector in the specific instance of pregnancy (or breastfeeding) or in young infants, because of the necessity to limit salt intake. Hence, particular attention is required in our countries to ensure that pregnant women have an adequate iodine intake, by administering multi-vitamin tablets containing iodide supplements (+125 micro g/d). Finally, it is with some concern that the results of a recent nutritional survey in the USA have disclosed that iodine deficiency, long thought to have been eradicated since many years, may actually show a resurgence, particularly in women in the child-bearing period. This issue needs to be considered seriously by the medical community and public health authorities.

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PMID: 12707632


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