Improved first trimester maternal iodine status with preconception supplementation: The Women First Trial

the Women First Preconception Maternal Nutrition Trial Group

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal iodine (I) status is critical in embryonic and foetal development. We examined the effect of preconception iodine supplementation on maternal iodine status and on birth outcomes. Non-pregnant women in Guatemala, India and Pakistan (n ~ 100 per arm per site) were randomized ≥ 3 months prior to conception to one of three intervention arms: a multimicronutrient-fortified lipid-based nutrient supplement containing 250-μg I per day started immediately after randomization (Arm 1), the same supplement started at ~12 weeks gestation (Arm 2) and no intervention supplement (Arm 3). Urinary I (μg/L) to creatinine (mg/dl) ratios (I/Cr) were determined at 12 weeks for Arm 1 versus Arm 2 (before supplement started) and 34 weeks for all arms. Generalized linear models were used to assess the relationship of I/Cr with arm and with newborn anthropometry. At 12 weeks gestation, adjusted mean I/Cr (μg/g) for all sites combined was significantly higher for Arm 1 versus Arm 2: (203 [95% CI: 189, 217] vs. 163 [95% CI: 152, 175], p < 0.0001). Overall adjusted prevalence of I/Cr < 150 μg/g was also lower in Arm 1 versus Arm 2: 32% (95% CI: 26%, 38%) versus 43% (95% CI: 37%, 49%) (p = 0.0052). At 34 weeks, adjusted mean I/Cr for Arm 1 (235, 95% CI: 220, 252) and Arm 2 (254, 95% CI: 238, 272) did not differ significantly but were significantly higher than Arm 3 (200, 95% CI: 184, 218) (p < 0.0001). Nominally significant positive associations were observed between I/Cr at 12 weeks and birth length and head circumference z-scores (p = 0.028 and p = 0.005, respectively). These findings support the importance of first trimester iodine status and suggest need for preconception supplementation beyond salt iodization alone.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13204
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • birth length
  • iodine supplementation
  • pregnancy
  • salt iodization
  • small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplement (SQ-LNS)
  • urinary iodine concentration (UIC)


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