Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breastfeeding provides babies with iodine

Date:
November 25, 2013
Source:
ETH Zurich
Summary:
WHO recommends that breastfeeding mothers without access to iodised salt should take an iodine supplement capsule to provide a year's worth of iodine for them and their infant. Researchers tested the effectiveness of this method for the first time.

Iodine is essential for the healthy development of children. ETH-researchers now show that breastfeeding provides babies best with the iodine they need.
Credit: Illustration: Andrea Lingk / ETH Zurich

Iodine is essential for the human body. This trace element is especially crucial for infants in order to ensure healthy development. Iodine deficiency can disrupt growth and damage the nervous system. In iodine-poor regions, such as Switzerland with its iodine-deficient soils, iodized salt is recommended for use in cooking and the food industry. So newborns generally receive enough of the trace element through breast milk and baby food containing added iodine. However, iodized salt or supplemented baby food are not available everywhere, particularly in remote areas of developing countries, and do not always reach vulnerable segments of the population.

To ensure newborns receive enough of the trace element, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that new mothers take one iodine capsule to provide a year's dose of iodine for the mother and child by way of breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not possible, physicians give a lower concentration pill directly to the infant. The effectiveness of these two methods, however, had never been tested. For the first time, a team of researchers from ETH compared the direct administration of iodine with indirect nourishment through breast milk in newborns and monitored the iodine status of mothers and their babies over a one-year period. In the course of the study, they found that giving an iodine capsule to the mother is more effective than administering it to the child directly. However, both methods are insufficient to ensure that both mother and child receive enough of the trace element.

All reserves put into breast milk

Raschida Bouhouch, a PhD student in the Laboratory of Human Nutrition at ETH, and her colleagues conducted a blind study of 241 mother-and-child pairings in Morocco. Half the mothers were given an iodine capsule and the baby a placebo. The parameters were reversed for the other half of participants. The pills were administered along with the first vaccination given during the first eight weeks following birth. Over the next nine months, Bouhouch and her colleagues measured the iodine concentration in breast milk and urine of the mother and her child to determine their iodine status.

Although administration of iodine to the mother passed an astonishing amount of the trace element from the mother's breast milk to the child, the iodine concentration in the urine of the baby was well below the critical threshold just nine months after birth. In the case of the mother herself, the one-time dose was unable to remedy the iodine deficiency at any point in time. "The mother's body is apparently programmed to put all its iodine reserves into nourishing the child and does not keep sufficient reserves for itself," explains Bouhouch. Shortly after birth, the infants had a much better iodine status than their mothers; however, the values were still under the minimum threshold needed by the body.

WHO recommendations inadequate

In the comparison, administration of iodine directly to the newborn was significantly less effective than indirect administration through breast milk. One reason for this might be that the child's body absorbs the trace element better when it is passed through breast milk than in a pre-processed form. The iodine status of the infants who received the capsule directly was usually below the threshold.

"That does not mean that direct iodine administration is not a good thing," emphasized Bouhouch. Both methods reduced disorders of the thyroid, which requires iodine in order to produce hormones in the infant. According to Bouhouch, WHO's recommendation still needs to be adjusted, however, as a one-time iodine dose is effective for only about six months rather than an entire year as previously thought. The iodine capsule is apparently insufficient to raise the mother's iodine status to a healthy level either. "It would be better to give the mothers iodine twice instead of only once a year." Even when iodine was administered directly to the infant, more regular and lower doses were reported to be preferable. The strategy undertaken in the study to give the iodine capsule regularly at the time of the first vaccination after birth is also a highly promising approach that could become an official recommendation.

In addition, the researchers led by Michael Zimmermann, ETH Professor of Human Nutrition and director of the study, are investigating how the high iodine dose is metabolized in the bodies of children and mothers. The reaction inside the body is still not fully understood.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Raschida R Bouhouch, Sabir Bouhouch, Mohamed Cherkaoui, Abdelmounaim Aboussad, Sara Stinca, Max Haldimann, Maria Andersson, Michael B Zimmermann. Direct iodine supplementation of infants versus supplementation of their breastfeeding mothers: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/S2213-8587(13)70155-4

Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich. "Breastfeeding provides babies with iodine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125121759.htm>.
ETH Zurich. (2013, November 25). Breastfeeding provides babies with iodine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125121759.htm
ETH Zurich. "Breastfeeding provides babies with iodine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131125121759.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins