Daphna K Dror and Lindsay H Allen
US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, CA

Because infants are born with small amounts of stored intrathyroidal iodine, they depend on human-milk iodine for normal physical and neurologic growth and development. The mammary gland concentrates iodide; however, there is a lack of consensus on the concentrations of breast-milk iodine necessary to achieve equilibrium in the infant. The objectives of the present review are to consider trends in breast-milk iodine concentrations over the course of lactation, to determine which maternal factors or interventions influence breast-milk iodine concentrations, to examine the association between breast-milk iodine concentrations and infant iodine status, and to identify how newer data contribute to the literature and inform recommendations for achieving optimal breast-milk iodine concentrations. A systematic search of the published literature was undertaken by using the US National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE/PubMed bibliographic search engine. Observational and intervention studies were included if the research was original, the study had not been included in a previous review, and iodine concentration in human milk was measured at ≥1 time point during the first 12 mo of lactation. Results of the systematic review indicate that breast-milk iodine concentrations vary widely between populations but are highest in colostrum and decrease gradually throughout the lactation period. Included studies did not replicate earlier findings of an inverse correlation between breast-milk iodine and perchlorate concentrations. Supplementation with high-dose or daily iodine during lactation was effective in increasing breast-milk iodine concentrations with some evidence of a dose-response relationship, which is consistent with findings of earlier supplementation trials in pregnancy and lactation. Although additional and globally representative research is needed, data suggest that breast-milk iodine concentrations in the range of 150 μg/L during the first 6 mo of lactation would achieve or exceed infant iodine equilibrium and prevent the developmental consequences of iodine deficiency. Adv Nutr 2018;9:347S–357S.

Keywords: human milk, lactation, iodine, perchlorate, deficiency, neurologic consequences, developmental consequences