Pregnant women in rural Vietnam are at risk of iodine deficiency

In Vietnam, iodised salt costs more than normal salt, making it difficult for the lower socio-economic groups to purchase.  Iodine is essential for cell metabolism and fetal growth. When iodine is deficient in an infant, the result is cretinism and mental retardation through limiting fetal growth. This is irreversible if uncorrected. In developing countries, iodine deficiency is a major contributor of mental retardation and decreased IQ. In adults, low iodine can cause hypothyroidism which includes symptoms such as cold intolerant, weight gain and lethargy.

This prospective cohort study aimed to determine iodine status in pregnant women in rural Northern Vietnam. It involved recruiting women before 20 weeks of gestation. A total of 413 pregnant women participated, and a median urinary iodine concentration of 70ug/L was found. Almost 83% had a UIC below the WHO recommendations of 150µg/L. Less than three-quarters reported using iodised salt. Nulliparous, less educated women, factory and government workers had lower proportions using iodised salt. The decline in use may increase the risk of pregnant women and their infants at risk of iodine deficiency.

Iodine can be found in PM Procare (Pregnancy and Breastfeeding formula).

Fisher, J., et al., Iodine status in late pregnancy and psychosocial determinants of iodized salt use in rural northern Viet Nam. Bull World Health Organ, 2011. 89(11): p. 813-20.