ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
CANCER
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
CAREGIVING
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Is Your Refrigerator Getting Enough Attention For Your Raw Food Success?
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Meat-Eating Dinosaurs Used Legs and Arms Like Birds
EYE CARE, VISION
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
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Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Most prenatal vitamins marketed in the United States don't contain as much iodine as is stated on the label, researchers report.

The variance is troubling, they say, since iodine is critically important to the health of a developing fetus.

In a letter appearing in the Feb. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the team also noted that the actual levels of iodine found in the supplements were typically below those recommended by the American Thyroid Association (ATA).

"Iodine nutrition is critically important in pregnancy," explained Dr. Elizabeth Pearce, co-author of the letter and an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University Medical Center. "Women who are deficient in pregnancy have children often with lower IQs or neurocognitive delays. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation in the world."

But, based on the new findings, "it seems that an ideal prenatal vitamin, in terms of iodine, does not exist," she said. "About half of them have iodine that's derived from kelp and that's very variable."

Through an Internet search, the authors found 127 nonprescription and 96 prescription prenatal vitamins currently available in the United States.

Product labeling on 114 products (87 nonprescription and 27 prescription) claimed that the vitamins contained iodine. According to the labeling, 101 (89 percent) of these products contained at least 150 micrograms of iodine in a daily dose.

Sixty-seven vitamins contained iodine from potassium iodide, 42 from kelp, and five from some other source.

"Products containing iodine from potassium iodide tended to be more consistent, [but] 150 micrograms of potassium iodide is not the same as 150 micrograms of iodine," Pearce stressed. "If you really want people to get what the American Thyroid Association [ATA] has recommended -- which is 150 micrograms [of iodine] a day in a supplement -- there isn't one, but we would prefer products made from potassium iodide."

After measuring actual iodine contained in 60 randomly selected products, the authors determined that the mean dose overall was 119 micrograms of iodine. But this level varied widely, depending on where the iodine came from. For example, potassium iodide contained about 76 percent iodine, while the level of iodine from vitamins with kelp ranged anywhere from 33 to 610 micrograms per daily dose.

In 13 of the vitamin brands sampled, the actual iodine content differed from what was stated on the labeling by 50 percent or more, the researchers reported.

"The values of iodine are all over the map," Pearce concluded.

Beyond being essential for the developing fetus, iodine is also critical for women who are breast-feeding. And adults who don't have enough of the element can develop goiter.

According to background information in the article, 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from iodine deficiency.

The ATA recommends that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding take prenatal vitamins with 150 micrograms of iodine a day. Both the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend higher amounts. The IOM suggests 220 micrograms daily during pregnancy and 290 micrograms while breast-feeding; the WHO recommends 250 micrograms daily during both pregnancy and breast-feeding.

According to the researchers, manufacturers should only use potassium iodide and should make sure supplements contain at least 197 micrograms of potassium iodide to ensure the recommended dose of iodine.

A representative of the supplements industry welcomed the findings.

"We compliment the article for identifying a significant potential problem and recommending to some degree that something be done about it," said John Hathcock, senior vice president for scientific and international affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, in Washington, D.C. "If iodine levels keep declining [iodine levels in U.S. adults have decreased by about 50 percent since the 1970s, most dramatically among women of childbearing age] and maybe even at present levels, there could be pockets of individuals with certain dietary habits who could [develop problems]."

Differences in labeling requirements for drug or food products on the part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may also account for some of the discrepancies, Hathcock added.

The good news, Pearce said, is that mild iodine deficiency in the United States is not likely to result in major or even detectable neurodevelopmental delays.

"But because we know the potential is there and it's such an easy thing to prevent, it makes sense to make sure that women get adequate iodine nutrition," she said.

Consumers should be able to read on the label whether the iodine comes from kelp or potassium iodide, she said.

More information

There's more on iodine deficiency at the American Thyroid Association.



SOURCES: Elizabeth N. Pearce, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, Boston University Medical Center; John Hathcock, Ph.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition, Washington, D.C.; Feb 26, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine

Last Updated: Feb. 25, 2009

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