Urinary Iodine Concentrations Indicate Iodine Deficiency in Pregnant Thai Women but Iodine Sufficiency in Their School-Aged Children1,2

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The median urinary iodine concentration (UI) in school-aged children is recommended for assessment of iodine nutrition in populations. If the median UI is adequate in school-aged children, it is usually assumed iodine intakes are also adequate in the remaining population, including pregnant women. But iodine requirements sharply increase during pregnancy. In this study, our aim was to measure UI in pairs of pregnant women and their school-aged children from the same family, who were sharing meals, to directly assess whether a household food basket that supplies adequate iodine to school-aged children also meets the needs of pregnant women. UI was measured in spot urine samples from pairs (n = 302) of healthy pregnant mothers and their school-aged children in metropolitan Bangkok, Thailand. A dietary questionnaire was completed. The UI [median (range)] in the pregnant women {108 (25–835) μg/L [1.58 (0.20–6.52) μmol/L]} (P < 0.001), indicating optimal iodine status in the children but mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency in their pregnant mothers. The estimated iodine intakes in the 2 groups were in the range of 130–170 μg/d. There was a modest positive correlation between UI in the pairs (r = 0.253; P < 0.01). A higher frequency of seafood meals was a significant predictor of UI in both groups, but household use of iodized salt was not. These data suggest the median UI in school-aged children should not be used as a surrogate for monitoring iodine status in pregnancy in central Thailand; pregnant women should be directly monitored. J. Nutr. 139: 1169–1172, 2009.

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