Israeli researchers found in a study that adequate iodine intake during pregnancy may reduce the risk of oversized newborns, the Barzilai Medical Center in southern Israel said in a statement on Wednesday, reported Xinhua.
Previous studies showed that newborns with a large body size are at an increased risk of hyperglycemia, birth trauma, cesarean delivery, bone fracture, and in extreme cases death at birth.
Meanwhile, having a large infant also increases a mother's risk of postpartum hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding at birth.
The new study, published in the journal Nutrients, examined the iodine balance, thyroid function, and sugar levels of 188 pregnant women, as well as several physical measurements of their babies.
It was found that apart from high sugar levels in the mother's blood, the maternal iodine balance also has an effect on the development and growth of the fetus.
The study suggests that an insufficient iodine status during pregnancy might increase the risk of large newborns in mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency regions. Sufficient iodine statuses and iodine-containing supplement intake levels may modify and constrain the effect of maternal hyperglycemia on offspring overgrowth.
The researchers explained that iodine is essential for the production of the hormone thyroxine (T4) in the thyroid gland, and a lack of this hormone causes insulin resistance.
As a result, the pancreas produces higher amounts of insulin, which increases the risk of accelerated intrauterine growth.