Increased exposure to perchlorate in pregnant women can hamper fetal brain development
Imperative to reduce exposure and increase consumption of iodine rich food
New Delhi, 09 December 2017: As per a recent study, expecting mothers, who are exposed to elevated levels of a common environmental pollutant, perchlorate, had lower levels of a thyroid hormone crucial for normal fetal brain development. It is important to minimize exposure to this chemical in pregnant women to prevent potential neurodevelopmental abnormalities in children. Perchlorate is a common environmental pollutant found in water, milk, some foods and everyday chemicals, including fertilizers and air bags.
Perchlorate is known to reduce absorption of iodine from the blood into the thyroid, where iodine is needed to make the thyroid hormone, T4. Since T4 is essential for normal fetal brain development, this suggests that perchlorate exposure could decrease maternal thyroid hormone levels, which may lead to brain development defects in babies.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, "Manufactured perchlorate is used as an industrial chemical and can be found in rocket propellant, explosives, fireworks and road flares. Natural perchlorate is found in some drinking water and some foods. In addition, trace amounts of perchlorate may be used as a component in some food packaging. During the 1st trimester, a developing fetus is completely dependent on its mother for thyroid hormone. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, the fetus receives approximately 30% of its thyroid hormone from the mother. Any deficiency has an adverse effect on the fetus.Drinking water with 5 ppb perchlorate can reduce maternal thyroid to a level that causes abnormal fetal brain development.”
Newborns must produce thyroid hormone on their own because breast milk provides almost none. Infants also use up their thyroid hormone quickly and have very little in reserve. These factors make infants especially vulnerable to disruptions.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “Iodine is a building block of thyroid hormone. Low iodine levels, and/or the gland's inability to absorb iodine can prevent the thyroid from producing enough thyroid hormone, resulting in an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. Babies of mothers who have hypothyroidism are at increased risk of cognitive and developmental problems, or, in more severe cases, cretinism and birth defects.”
The following are some good sources of iodine.
- Most dairy products are iodine enriched. Two varieties of cheese that are rich in this mineral include Cheddar and Mozzarella.
- Iodine is found in seafood. One of the richest sources is a seaweed called kelp.
- Eggyolk is one of the safest and simplest sources of iodine.
- Milk Studies indicate that every 250ml of milk has about 150 micrograms of iodine.
- A single cup of yoghurt can meet half of the daily iodine requirement giving close to 70 micrograms of iodine. It is also good for the stomach and rich in calcium and protein.
- Apart from the above food items, some others that are good sources of iodine include fruits like bananas, strawberries; vegetables such as green leafy vegetables, onions, and sweet potatoes; and grains, nuts and legumes like peanuts, barley, etc.