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Breastfeeding provides babies with iodine
Date:11/25/2013

This news release is available in German.

Iodine is essential for the human body. This trace element is especially crucial for infants in order to ensure healthy development. Iodine deficiency can disrupt growth and damage the nervous system. In iodine-poor regions, such as Switzerland with its iodine-deficient soils, iodised salt is recommended for use in cooking and the food industry. So newborns generally receive enough of the trace element through breast milk and baby food containing added iodine. However, iodised salt or supplemented baby food are not available everywhere, particularly in remote areas of developing countries, and do not always reach vulnerable segments of the population.

To ensure newborns receive enough of the trace element, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that new mothers take one iodine capsule to provide a year's dose of iodine for the mother and child by way of breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not possible, physicians give a lower concentration pill directly to the infant. The effectiveness of these two methods, however, had never been tested. For the first time, a team of researchers from ETH compared the direct administration of iodine with indirect nourishment through breast milk in newborns and monitored the iodine status of mothers and their babies over a one-year period. In the course of the study, they found that giving an iodine capsule to the mother is more effective than administering it to the child directly. However, both methods are insufficient to ensure that both mother and child receive enough of the trace element.

All reserves put into breast milk

Raschida Bouhouch, a PhD student in the Laboratory of Human Nutrition at ETH, and her colleagues conducted a blind study of 241 mother-and-child
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Contact: Raschida Bouhouch
raschida.bouhouch@hest.ethz.ch
41-446-324-315
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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