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NI Iodine status in early pregnancy study

Lucy Kayes is a Health and Social Care Research & Development (HSC R&D) Doctoral Fellow working on a randomised dietary intervention study using cow’s milk called: ‘Strategies to Improve Iodine Status in Early Pregnancy’.

This Northern Ireland study, led by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, explored if providing pregnant women with a 12-week supply of cow’s milk (semi-skimmed) would improve their iodine nutrition status, measured in a urine sample in the second trimester of pregnancy, compared to a sample collected in the first trimester.

Women participating in the study were also asked to complete a four-day food diary and food frequency questionnaires to gather information on their dietary iodine intake.

To complement this study, semi-structured interviews with midwives and midwifery academics from throughout the UK were completed, along with semi-structured interviews with women who had experienced maternal healthcare to establish the current practice for counselling on diet and nutrition in pregnancy and identify any knowledge gaps. The interviews should provide useful information on current knowledge of iodine in midwives, and women’s views on information provided during pregnancy.

This study was designed in 2019 prior to the pandemic with some changes made to the study, for example, remote study visits so participants did not have to attend additional appointments outside of clinical care and yogurt was offered as an alternative to cow’s milk. This study completed in October 2022 and is currently in the analysis and write up phase.

The study will add to the knowledge of iodine status in pregnancy, along with current dietary habits of pregnant women in NI. If cow’s milk proves useful in improving iodine nutrition status in pregnancy it may be suggested that women are advised to increase their cow’s milk intake before, during and after pregnancy (if breastfeeding).

Lucy Kayes received funding for this study from HSC R&D Doctoral Fellowship Scheme, Northern Ireland.