Iodine supplementation for pregnant women: a cross-sectional national interventional study

J Endocrinol Invest. 2021 Mar 11. doi: 10.1007/s40618-021-01538-z. Online ahead of print.


Background: Although Iran has been considered iodine replete since 2000, the first national survey of iodine intake among Iranian pregnant women in 2014 indicated that despite the adequate intake of iodine by the general population, this vulnerable group has moderate iodine deficiency. Therefore, in this national cross-sectional interventional study, we aimed to assess the iodine intake and thyroid function of Iranian pregnant women 2 years after implementing national iodine supplementation for this vulnerable group.

Materials and methods: In this cross-sectional study, we conducted a national interventional survey of pregnant women. A total of 1200 pregnant women (400 women from each trimester) from 12 provinces of Iran were recruited from the antenatal care clinics from October 2018 to March 2019. The median urinary iodine concentration (MUIC), as an indicator of iodine status in three spot urine samples, was measured, along with the serum total T4 (TT4), thyrotropin (TSH), thyroglobulin (Tg), thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPO-Ab), and iodine content of household salt.

Results: The mean age of the cohort was 28 ± 6.2 years, with the mean gestational age of 22.7 ± 13.0 weeks. The overall MUIC (IQR) of pregnant women was 188 µg/L (124.2-263 µg/L). Also, the MUICs in the three trimesters of pregnancy were 174 µg/L (110-254), 175 µg/L (116-251), and 165 µg/L (114-235), respectively. The MUICs ≥ 150, 100-149, and < 100 µg/L were found in 63, 19.8, and 16.2% of the subjects, respectively. The mean TT4 level was 12 ± 4.5 µg/dL, and the median (IQR) level of TSH was 2.37 mIU/L (1.66-3.18 mIU/L). According to our local reference range, 118 (10.5%) pregnant women had subclinical hypothyroidism, 6 (0.53%) women had isolated hypothyroxinemia, and 65 (5.7%) women were TPO-Ab positive. Also, the median (IQR) level of Tg was 10.08 µg/dL (5.7-20.4 µg/dL), and the median iodine content of household salt was 29.6 µg/g; the iodine content was ≥ 30 µg/g in 85% of household salt. The results showed that more than 95% of households were under iodized salt coverage.

Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that iodine supplementation with at least 150 µg of iodine per day improved the iodine intake of pregnant women. Except for subclinical hypothyroidism, the prevalence of clinical hypothyroidism, clinical/subclinical thyrotoxicosis, TPO-Ab positivity, and isolated hypothyroxinemia decreased significantly, which emphasizes the importance of iodine supplementation during pregnancy.

Keywords: Iodine; Iodine deficiency; Pregnancy; Thyroid function; Urinary iodine concentration.