Iodine status and associations with feeding practices and psychomotor milestone development in six-month-old South African infants

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • SDG 2
  • Abstract:

    Iodine is important for normal growth and psychomotor development. While infants below 6 months of age receive iodine from breast milk or fortified infant formula, the introduction of complementary foods poses a serious risk for deteriorating iodine status. This cross-sectional analysis assessed the iodine status of six-month-old South African infants and explored its associations with feeding practices and psychomotor milestone development. Iodine concentrations were measured in infant (n = 386) and maternal (n = 371) urine (urinary iodine concentration [UIC]), and in breast milk (n = 257 [breast milk iodine concentrations]). Feeding practices and psychomotor milestone development were assessed in all infants. The median (25th–75th percentile) UIC in infants was 345 (213–596) μg/L and was significantly lower in stunted (302 [195–504] μg/L) than non-stunted (366 [225–641] μg/L) infants. Only 6.7% of infants were deficient. Maternal UIC (128 [81–216] μg/L; rs = 0.218, p < 0.001) and breast milk iodine concentrations (170 [110–270] μg/kg; rs = 0.447, p < 0.0001) were associated with infant UIC. Most infants (72%) were breastfed and tended to have higher UIC than non-breastfed infants (p = 0.074). Almost all infants (95%) consumed semi-solid or solid foods, with commercial infant cereals (60%) and jarred infant foods (20%) being the most common solid foods first introduced. Infants who reported to consume commercial infant cereals ≥4 days weekly had significantly higher UIC (372 [225–637] μg/L) than those reported to consume commercial infant cereals seldom or never (308 [200–517] μg/L; p = 0.023). No associations between infant UIC and psychomotor developmental scores were observed. Our results suggest that iodine intake in the studied six-month-old infants was adequate. Iodine in breast milk and commercial infant cereals potentially contributed to this adequate intake