Babies of obese mothers at risk for iron deficiency, study finds

March 18, 2013 by Tufts Staff

A new study has found that obese women are more likely to have babies with lower levels of iron, a mineral that is crucial for nervous system development in the early stages of life.

The cause may be the low-grade, that is associated with obesity.

Inflammation, an abnormal immune response to extra fat in the body, raises levels of hepcidin, a hormone that helps balance . Obese people tend to make too much of it and also tend to have less iron in their blood.

This study, conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts and the Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center, found that high levels of hepcidin also appear to interfere with the transfer of iron from mother to fetus.

"When there is excess hepcidin in a cell, it binds to and inhibits the function of ferroportin, the protein that allows iron to pass through the cell membrane and into the bloodstream," explains Professor Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the HNRCA and its Nutritional Immunology Laboratory, who was senior author. Maria Carlota Dao, N10, a doctoral student in the lab, and Sarbattama Sen, an assistant professor at Tufts School of Medicine, were first authors of the study, published in the Journal of Perinatology.

The study looked at 30 , half of them obese. The researchers checked iron and hepcidin levels of the mothers during their second trimester and measured the iron status of the newborns through their . As expected, the had markers of inflammation and higher levels of hepcidin, while their newborns showed lower levels of iron than the babies of the normal-weight women.

Children born with iron deficiency are at a greater risk for delays in motor and cognitive development. But the authors stress that more research is needed before obese pregnant women consider changing their iron intake. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women consume 27 milligrams of daily.

Explore further: Lower iron levels seen in newborns of obese mothers

Related Stories

Maternal obesity puts infants at risk

April 30, 2011

Babies born to obese mothers are at risk for iron deficiency, which could affect infant brain development, according to a study to be presented Saturday, April 30, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting ...

Recommended for you

Yo-yo dieting might cause extra weight gain

December 5, 2016

Repeated dieting may lead to weight gain because the brain interprets the diets as short famines and urges the person to store more fat for future shortages, new research by the universities of Exeter and Bristol suggests.

New target receptor discovered in the fight against obesity

November 25, 2016

The team of scientists from King's College London and Imperial College London tested a high-fat diet, containing a fermentable carbohydrate, and a control diet on mice and looked at the effect on food intake of those with ...

Does where you live affect what you weigh?

November 21, 2016

Adult obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic proportions, with one in four people considered obese. Yet, obesity rates vary considerably across states and counties.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.