From July 1 the Ministry of Health has added iodine as a recommended supplement for pregnant and breastfeeding women, with subsidised tablets available. Dr Pat Tuohy, the ministry’s chief advisor on child and youth health says: “Pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased iodine requirements and in spite of a good diet and mandatory fortification of bread with iodised salt (introduced late 2009) they remain at risk of inadequate iodine intakes. Not enough iodine can result in impaired brain function and impaired growth and development in the unborn baby and young infant. Drug-buying agency PHARMAC is now subsidising a New Zealand-made iodine tablet providing the recommended 150mcg daily dose, which can be prescribed or bought over the counter at pharmacies. Iodine deficiency problems in New Zealand lead to table salt being iodised in 1924 and the level increased in 1938, but the ministry says recent research indicated further intervention was needed to stop iodine deficiency disorders from once again widely affecting the New Zealand population. The re-emergence of iodine deficiency is thought to be due to increased consumption of commercially prepared food mostly made with non-iodised salt, the declining use of iodine sanitisers by the dairy industry and generally reduced salt intakes.
More information is available from the nutrition section of the Ministry of Health’s website www.moh.govt.nz