Systematic review of the effects of iodised salt and iodine supplements on prenatal and postnatal growth: study protocol

BMJ Open. 2015 Apr 23;5(4):e007238. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-007238.


Introduction: Iodine is an essential micronutrient and component of the thyroid hormones. Sufficient ingestion of iodine is necessary for normal growth and development. If iodine requirements are not met, growth can be impaired. Salt iodisation and supplementation with iodine can prevent iodine deficiency disorders and stunted growth. No systematic review has yet collated the evidence linking iodine to growth. With an increased emphasis on stunting within the WHO Global Nutrition Targets for 2025, we propose a systematic review to address this question.

Methods and analysis: We will undertake a systematic review, and if appropriate, meta-analyses, evaluating the effects of iodised salt or iodine supplements on prenatal and postnatal somatic growth, until age 18. We will search a number of databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsychINFO, the Cochrane Library, including the CENTRAL register of Controlled Trials and also the WHO library and ICTRP (International Clinical Trials Registry Platform), which includes the repository. We will also search Wanfang Data and the China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database. Included studies must have compared exposure to iodised salt, iodine supplements or iodised oil, to placebo, non-iodised salt or no intervention. Primary outcomes will be continuous and categorical markers of prenatal and postnatal somatic growth. Secondary outcomes will cover further measures of growth, including growth rates and indirect markers of growth such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).

Ethics and dissemination: The systematic review will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and will be sent directly to the WHO, United Nations Children's Fund, International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders and other stakeholders. The results generated from this systematic review will provide evidence to support future programme recommendations regarding iodine fortification or supplementation and child growth.

Trial registration number: PROSPERO CRD42014012940.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Growth Disorders / prevention & control
  • Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / etiology
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Iodine / deficiency
  • Iodine / pharmacology*
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Micronutrients / deficiency
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


  • Micronutrients
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • iodized salt
  • Growth Hormone
  • Iodine