Recent research has confirmed that Australian children and pregnant women are mildly iodine deficient. A considerable proportion of the pregnant population is moderately to severely iodine deficient.
Even subclinical hypothyroidism in the mother, occurring as a consequence of iodine deficiency, can cause irreversible brain damage in the fetus, making it essential to avoid iodine deficiency in pregnancy.
The proposal of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) — Mandatory Iodine Fortification for Australia (P1003) — has been implemented. FSANZ openly admits P1003 is inadequate for covering the needs of pregnant women. Therefore, health professionals and the public must be properly informed about the limitations of this proposal.
Views differ about the most effective measures to prevent iodine deficiency in Australia. We propose that women planning a pregnancy, and pregnant and lactating women should be advised to take an iodine supplement. Women with pre-existing thyroid disease should exercise caution and seek medical advice before taking a supplement.
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