Other Conditions & Exposures

Expert reports about Other Conditions & Exposures


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING OF CONSUMING, ARE CONSUMING, OR HAVE CONSUMED IODINE DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is iodine?

Iodine is a trace element, a chemical element that is present in small amounts in the environment and in food. Like all elements it can exist in elemental form (molecules containing only iodine) or as part of chemical compounds (molecules containing iodine with other elements. In the diet, usually iodine occurs as iodide, which means an ion (charged particle) that is part of a salt, such as sodium iodide or potassium iodide. This is how it exists as an additive to table salt. Iodine is a needed component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). In order for your thyroid gland to make adequate amounts of these hormones during pregnancy, your body’s requirement for iodine increases. The requirement increases still more after you deliver, if you are breastfeeding. If you receive inadequate amounts of dietary iodine, you will not make enough T3 and T4 and your thyroid will swell up as a lump in the neck that can give you a cough and make swallowing difficult. This condition is called goiter and it can develop before there are other symptoms of reduced thyroid hormone levels, such as feeling cold and fatigued.


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