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Neonatal iron status is impaired by maternal obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy



Maternal iron needs increase sixfold during pregnancy, but obesity interferes with iron absorption. We hypothesized that maternal obesity impairs fetal iron status.

Study Design:

Three hundred and sixteen newborns with risk factors for infantile iron deficiency anemia (IDA) were studied to examine obesity during pregnancy and neonatal iron status. Erythrocyte iron was assessed by cord blood hemoglobin (Hb), zinc protoporphyrin/heme (ZnPP/H) and reticulocyte-ZnPP/H, and storage iron by serum ferritin.


Women with body mass index (BMI) 30 kg m2, as compared with non-obese women, delivered larger offspring with higher reticulocyte-ZnPP/H and lower serum ferritin concentrations (P<0.05 for both). With increasing BMI, the estimated body iron was relatively lower (mg kg1) and the ratio of total Hb-bound iron (mg) per total body iron (mg) increased. Maternal diabetes compromised infant iron status, but multivariate analysis demonstrated that obesity was an independent predictor.


Obesity during pregnancy and excessive weight gain are independent risk factors for iron deficiency in the newborn.

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We thank the participating families, Meriter Hospital Birthing Center Staff, Meriter Hospital Blood Bank, Deb Krumpos (RN), Sue Shafranski (RN), Patricia Green-Sotos (RN), Melinda E Chen (BS), Beth A Fischer (PhD), Jens Eichman (PhD), Chong Zhang, Vidya Sridhar (MBBS), Brian R Pisula (BS), Murray L Katcher (MD, PhD), Daphne Pham (PhD) and members of the Kling Laboratory Research Team. This work was supported by University of Wisconsin Shapiro Research Program (SCR), University of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Research Center (SCR), Meriter Foundation (PJK), Wisconsin Partnership Collaborative Health Sciences Program Grant (PJK), NIH 1 ULRR026011 UW CTSA, Thrasher Research Fund (PJK), UW Graduate School Competition (PJK).

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Correspondence to P J Kling.

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Phillips, A., Roy, S., Lundberg, R. et al. Neonatal iron status is impaired by maternal obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. J Perinatol 34, 513–518 (2014).

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