Aim: To assess the iodine status, and knowledge and practices related to iodine nutrition of Australian women during pregnancy.
Methods: A cross-sectional study conducted at a public antenatal clinic in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. N = 139 pregnant women across all trimesters provided a spot urine sample (N=110) and completed a short questionnaire (N=139) in English. Iodine status was based on WHO/ICCIDD urine iodine concentration (UIC) categories.
Results: Median UIC was 87.5 µg/L (IQR = 62); only 14.5 % of participants had an adequate UIC value ≥ 150 µg/L. Fifteen percent of women had very low UIC values (< 50µg/L), while 45.5 % had values in the 50-99 µg/L range. Knowledge of the adverse health effects of an inadequate iodine intake was poor. Approximately half the participants were able to indicate good dietary sources of iodine, such as fish (58%) and iodised salt (51%). However, a high level of confusion regarding other foods was evident. Only a small number of participants (11%) reported that they had intentionally changed their diet to increase iodine intake during pregnancy but 59% indicated supplement use, of which 35% contained iodine. Those who were taking supplements that contained iodine had significantly higher UIC (139.1µg/L) than those who were not (90.8µg/L; P<0.05).
Conclusions: Public health strategies, including nutrition education and supplementation, are urgently required to improve the iodine status of pregnant women. Currently no readily accessible information on iodine is available to women attending antenatal clinics in Australia.