Breast-milk iodine concentrations, iodine status, and thyroid function of breastfed infants aged 2-4 months and their mothers residing in a South African township
Smuts, Cornelius M.
Van der Reijden, Olivia
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Objective: Lactating women and their infants are susceptible to iodine deficiency and iodine excess. In South Africa, no data exist on the iodine status and thyroid function of these vulnerable groups. Methods: In a cross-sectional study, urinary iodine concentrations (UIC), thyroid function, and breast-milk iodine concentrations (BMIC) were assessed in 100 lactating women from a South African township and their 2-4-month-old breastfed infants. Potential predictors of UIC, thyroid function, and BMIC, including household salt iodine concentrations (SIC) and maternal sodium excretion, were also investigated. Results: The median (25th-75th percentile) UIC was 373 (202-627) μg/L in infants and 118 (67-179) μg/L in mothers. Median household SIC was 44 (27-63) ppm. Household SIC and maternal urinary sodium excretion predicted UIC of lactating mothers. Median BMIC was 179 (126-269) μg/L. Age of infants, SIC, and maternal UIC predicted BMIC. In turn, infant age and BMIC predicted UIC of infants. Forty-two percent of SIC values were within the South African recommended salt iodine fortification level at production of 35-65 ppm, whilst 21% of SIC were >65 ppm. Thyroid-stimulating hormone, total thyroxine, and thyroglobulin concentrations in the dried whole blood spot specimens from the infants were 1.3 (0.8-1.9) mU/L, 128±33 mmol/L, and 77.1 (56.3-105.7) μg/L, respectively, and did not correlate with infant UIC or BMIC. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the salt fortification program in South Africa provides adequate iodine to lactating women and indirectly to their infants via breast milk. However, monitoring of salt iodine content of the mandatory salt iodization program in South Africa is important to avoid over-iodization of salt
- Faculty of Health Sciences 
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