For infants and children, proper thyroid function is essential for their growth and development. Many foods, including salt and milk, contain added iodine. Inadequate iodine consumption, resulting in poor thyroid function (hypothyroidism), causes growth retardation, delayed skeletal growth, decreased physical activity, and other problems.
Doctors at Boston University School of Medicine measured the iodine content of the breast milk of 14 women. Five had iodine levels less than 10 micrograms per deciliter. For proper growth and development, the World Health Organization recommends that infants consume between 90 and 110 micrograms of iodine per day. The average daily breast milk consumption is around 1 liter. This means some of these infants aren't getting the recommended amount of iodine.
Infant formula contains varying amounts of iodine, sometimes more than the amount stated on their labels. Iodine is found in many other foods: milk, bread, and, of course, iodized salt.
Elizabeth Pearce, MD, the lead researcher of this study, suggests that pregnant and lactating women take a supplement containing iodine. However, she said that iodine supplements are hard to find. One solution is drinking extra milk since it contains a high level of iodine.
Family Practice News, 3/1/03.
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