1 out of 5 Filipino pregnant, lactating moms suffers from iodine deficiency — study

Published August 18, 2021, 11:11 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

One out of five Filipino pregnant and lactating women exhibited insufficient iodine nutrition, based on the results of the Department of Science and Technology–Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (DOST-FNRI) 2018-2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS).


The 2018-2019 ENNS showed that iodine deficiency is common among pregnant and lactating mothers

“One out of five or 21.1 percent of pregnant women suffers from iodine deficiency, as indicated by urinary iodine (UI) level less than 50 micrograms per liter (µg/L).”

The survey noted that median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) among pregnant women was only 122 µg/L. This is less than the 150 µg/L cut-off for determining insufficient iodine intake, it said.

“Similarly, among lactating mothers, the median UIC was 99 µg/L, which is less than 100 µg/L cut-off that indicates insufficient iodine intake.”

In its ENNS, the DOST-FNRI research team found that one out of five or 22 percent of lactating mothers likewise lacks iodine in their diet.

“It was also found that insufficient iodine intake was common among pregnant women across wealth quintiles, while lactating mothers in the poorest households have insufficient iodine intake.”

The DOST-FNRI explained that iodine is an essential micronutrient needed by the body for the production of thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions.

Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy to help in the proper brain and bone development of the fetus, it said.

The Institute said insufficient intake of iodine leads to inadequate production of thyroid hormones, causing iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).

“Iodine deficiency during pregnancy may result to miscarriage and stillbirth, or may cause irreversible effects on the newborn which may include neuro-developmental deficits and intrauterine growth restriction, impaired cognitive development, cretinism, or severe hypothyroidism,” it warned.

The iodine-rich foods are tuna, seaweeds, shrimp, and other seafoods.

While. iodine is naturally present in iodized salt, the DOSY-FNRI said there are also available supplements, but they must be taken with a prescription or upon the advice of a medical doctor.

To address the iodine deficiency among Filipino lactating and pregnant mothers, the DOST-FNRI developed a technology dubbed Iodine-Rich Drinking Water or “Tubig Talino”.

The consumption of Tubig Talino is being promoted to improve the iodine intake of Filipinos.

“Tubig Talino is a blend of purified or ordinary potable water and Water Plus I2, a premix of water and iodine. A 5-milliliter (ml) Water Plus I2 can enrich 20 liters of drinking water with iodine.”

The DOST-FNRi said five 250 ml glasses of Tubig Talino can meet 33 percent of the daily iodine requirement of the body.

“DOST-FNRI is encouraging micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as LGUs to become adopters of Tubig Talino and supply their respective communities with a drinking water that is rich with iodine which can be used in nutrition intervention programs, disaster relief, and other health or civic projects.”