As part of a study of thyroid function in premature babies, the iodine content of their mothers' breast milk, that of 32 formulas from different brands used in Spain, and that of 127 formulas used in other countries was determined. Breast milk contained more iodine--mean (SEM) 10 (1) microgram/dl--than most of the formulas, especially those for premature babies. Iodine intakes were therefore below the recommended daily amount (RDA) for newborns: babies of 27-30 weeks' gestational age took 3.1 (1.1) micrograms/day at 5 days of age and 29.8 (2.7) micrograms by 2 months of age. This problem is not exclusive to Spanish premature babies as the iodine content of many of the formulas on sale in other countries was also inadequate. It is concluded that preterm infants who are formula fed are at high risk of iodine deficiency.
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