Why do we need this research?
Iodine is an important nutrient that is needed during pregnancy to help the baby’s brain develop properly. Low iodine can lead to problems for the child later in life, such as difficulty with speech and reading. Iodine deficiency can also lead to health problems for women.
There’s some evidence that many pregnant women don’t get enough iodine in their diet during pregnancy. However, we don’t know the true extent of iodine deficiency among pregnant women, and how the levels of iodine in mothers’ bodies might change during pregnancy.
What’s happening in this project?
Researchers funded by Tommy’s are using data from a study called UPBEAT, which involved more than 1,500 pregnant women with obesity. These women donated blood and urine samples throughout their pregnancy. Our researchers are measuring the amount of iodine present in urine samples donated early on in pregnancy (15-18 weeks), and in the third trimester (34-36 weeks).
So far, looking at nearly 1,400 urine samples, our researchers have found that around half of pregnant obese women are iodine deficient, in both early and late pregnancy. This confirms their belief that iodine deficiency is very common in pregnancy.
What difference will this project make?
This study has provided a detailed picture of iodine deficiency during pregnancy in obese women, and begun to investigate some of the reason why might be the case. The findings from this research could strengthen recommendations for pregnant women to ensure they get enough iodine in their diet, or could lead to trials of iodine supplements during pregnancy.
Get our research updates
Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
More research projects
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.