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Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2005 Jan;113(1):8-12.

Pilot study: tendency of increasing iodine content in human milk and cow's milk.

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  • 1Institute of Nutrition, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany.


The iodine supply in Germany has improved throughout the last decade, albeit with enormous differences between individuals and regions. In the Thuringian city of Jena, analyses of the iodine content of human milk have been undertaken regularly since 1982. Significantly increasing iodine concentrations in human and cow's milk have been found. Therefore, the current situation and the effectiveness of measures to prevent iodine deficiency demands re-evaluation. The iodine content of human milk from 32 lactating mothers was analysed on the 5th day (mean) postpartum and mothers' dietary iodine intake during the last two months of pregnancy was assessed by means of a food frequency questionnaire. To corroborate the assumption that the increasing iodine levels of cow's milk are one of the main reasons for the improved iodine supply, the iodine concentration of 34 cow's milk bulk-samples was also determined. Both human and cow's milk samples were analysed by the ICP-MS method. Twenty women took iodine supplements (mean daily intake = 175 microg). The average daily iodine intake of the 20 supplemented and 12 non-supplemented women was 258 microg and 116 microg, respectively. Daily iodine intake from food and beverages was significantly lower in supplemented women (83 microg/day). The average iodine content of human milk was 169 +/- 88 microg/l with a range of 33 - 348 microg/l. This content is two times higher than levels from 1994 in the same area. There was no difference in the human milk iodine content between mothers taking supplements and those who did not. Cow's milk samples showed a mean iodine concentration of 178 +/- 131 microg/l (range 48 - 661 microg/l).

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