Iodine During Pregnancy Is More Important Than Thyroid Hormone for Your Child’s Brain Development

If you have thyroid autoimmunity (aka Hashimoto’s or Graves’), high iodine intake can make your condition worse. But what do you do if you have Hashimoto’s and are pregnant? A recent study provides an answer for mothers that will ensure their child’s brain develops optimally.

If you have questions about managing your autoimmunity or iodine intake, click here.

Iodine During Pregnancy Is More Important Than Thyroid Hormone for Your Child’s Brain Development

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi. This is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss a very interesting study than can help guide mothers on the appropriate nutritional strategy to make sure that their developing child has the best brain or neurological development. Here is a recent study. I’ll put the abstract up here on the screen.

And I’ll quote from the authors here. “Neurointellectual outcomes,” meaning brain development essentially, “in children appear to be more dependent on their mothers’ nutritional iodine status than on maternal thyroid function.”

And more specifically, what this study looked at was iodine supplementation compared to thyroid hormone replacement—so looking at what kind of brain development we had in children from mothers who were taking iodine compared to mothers who were taking thyroid hormone, and also looked at urinary levels of iodine in mom compared to thyroid hormone levels in mom and how that correlated to the child’s brain development.

And what was found consistently was that the iodine status was more important than either taking thyroid hormone or having higher levels of thyroid hormone. So again, in short, iodine—more important for the development of the child’s brain than thyroid hormone levels or thyroid hormone replacement.

Why this is relevant is because if you have hypothyroid, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is thyroid autoimmunity. And iodine has been consistently shown to make thyroid autoimmunity worse when iodine intake is high. So it would not be an unreasonable thought for a mother to be recommended to—a mother who has Hashimoto’s thyroid autoimmunity as the cause of her hypothyroid to avoid iodine so as not to make the thyroid autoimmunity worse.

However, this study shows that it would be a good idea to make sure mom has adequate iodine status and maybe even consider supplementing with iodine because of the effect on the child.

Now, the other good news here is that selenium may help buffer any of the autoimmune-provoking impact that can be begotten from iodine. And so by using iodine with selenium, we will hopefully be able to have all the brain impact from iodine but safeguard as much as possible against any of the autoimmune potential from iodine by using the selenium.

So again, this study shows that as a mom, it’s important that you have good iodine status for the brain development of your child. And I would suggest that you make the iodine more important than the thyroid autoimmunity in this case because, as this study shows, if you avoid iodine, yes, you may help with your thyroid autoimmunity. But as these study results show, having better iodine status is going to be better for the development of your child’s brain.

So if you’re pregnant and you want to make sure your child has good brain development, do not avoid iodine. Make sure you have adequate iodine intake. That will be more important for the health of your child’s brain than even taking thyroid hormone replacement. Not to say that you shouldn’t take thyroid hormone replacement if you need it, but iodine is going to be more important for the intellectual or neurological development of your child than would thyroid hormone replacement.

So this is Dr. Ruscio. And I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.

If you have questions about managing your autoimmunity or iodine intake, click here.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.


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