Background: An adequate iodine intake during pregnancy is essential for the synthesis of maternal thyroid hormones and normal brain development in the fetus. Scant evidence is available on the effects and safety of iodine supplementation during pregnancy in areas with adequate or mildly deficient iodine intake. We examined the association of maternal iodine intake and supplementation with thyroid function before 24 weeks of gestation in population-based samples from 3 different areas in Spain.
Methods: A cross-sectional study of 1844 pregnant women (gestational age range 8-23 weeks) was carried out in 3 areas in Spain (Guipúzcoa, Sabadell, Valencia), during the period 2004-2008. We measured levels of free thyroxine and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in serum, iodine in a spot urine sample, and questionnaire estimates of iodine intake from diet, iodized salt and supplements. Adjusted associations were assessed by multiple linear regression and logistic regression analyses.
Results: There was an increased risk of TSH above 3 muU/mL in women who consumed 200 microg or more of iodine supplements daily compared with those who consumed less than 100 microg/day (adjusted odds ratio = 2.5 [95% confidence interval = 1.2 to 5.4]). We observed no association between urinary iodine and TSH levels. Pregnant women from the area with the highest median urinary iodine (168 microg/L) and highest supplement coverage (93%) showed the lowest values of serum free thyroxine. (geometric mean = 10.09 pmol/L [9.98 to 10.19]).
Conclusions: Iodine supplement intake in the first half of pregnancy may lead to maternal thyroid dysfunction in iodine-sufficient or mildly iodine-deficient populations.