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Eur J Endocrinol. 2010 Oct;163(4):631-5. doi: 10.1530/EJE-10-0449. Epub 2010 Jul 19.

Iodine intake in Portuguese pregnant women: results of a countrywide study.

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Department of Endocrinology, Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa de Francisco Gentil, Rua Professor Lima Basto, Lisboa, Portugal.



Iodine is the key element for thyroid hormone synthesis, and its deficiency, even moderate, is harmful in pregnancy, when needs are increased, because of its potential deleterious effects on fetal brain development. In Portugal, no recent data on iodine intake exists. The objective of this countrywide study was to analyze iodine status in pregnant Portuguese women in order to propose adequate measures to the health authorities.


Using a fast colorimetric method, urine iodine concentration (UIC) was evaluated in 3631 pregnant women followed in 17 maternity hospitals from hinterland and coastal areas in Continental Portugal and the Portuguese islands of Açores and Madeira.


Median UIC value was 84.9 μg/l (range 67.6-124.1) in Continental Portugal, 69.5 μg/l in Madeira, and 50.0 μg/l in Açores. The percentage of satisfactory values (>150 μg/l) was 16.8, ranging from 8.8 to 34.1 in the Continent, and being 8.2 in Madeira and 2.3 in Açores. The percentage of values below 50 μg/l was 23.7, ranging from 14.0 to 37.4 in the Continent, 33.7 in Madeira, and 50.0 in Açores.


Our results point to an inadequate iodine intake in pregnant women assisted in most Portuguese maternity hospitals. Considering the potential deleterious effects of inadequate iodine supply in pregnancy, iodine supplementation is strongly recommended in this period of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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