Iron status in infants with alloimmune haemolytic disease in the first three months of life

Vox Sang. 2013 Nov;105(4):328-33. doi: 10.1111/vox.12061. Epub 2013 Jun 27.


Background and objectives: Ferritin levels are often highly elevated at birth in neonates with alloimmune haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn (HDFN). Data on ferritin levels in these infants in the first 3 months of life are lacking. Objective of this study was to examine the course of iron status and incidence of iron deficiency and overload in neonates with alloimmune HDFN up to 3 months of age. Secondary objective was to analyse bilirubin levels, liver enzymes and red-blood-cell indices in the same time period and the association with intrauterine transfusion (IUT).

Materials and methods: Observational study of neonates with alloimmune HDFN admitted to our centre between November 2010 and March 2012. Data on iron status, bilirubin levels, liver enzymes and red-blood-cell indices up to 3 months of age were routinely collected and compared between neonates treated with and without IUT.

Results: Thirty-five infants with alloimmune HDFN were included. Iron overload occurred in 70% of neonates at birth and in 50% and 18% at the age of 1 and 3 months, respectively. No cases of iron deficiency at birth and only one case of iron deficiency at 3 months of age were found. No infants received iron therapy. Infants who received IUT had a significantly lower haemoglobin level and reticulocyte count and higher ferritin level at birth.

Conclusion: The vast majority of neonates with alloimmune HDFN have iron overload at birth. Incidence of iron overload gradually decreases within the first 3 months without iron supplementation.

Keywords: cholestasis; haemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn; iron overload; iron status; liver enzymes.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin / analysis
  • Blood Transfusion, Intrauterine
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal / epidemiology*
  • Erythroblastosis, Fetal / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Iron Overload / complications
  • Iron Overload / epidemiology*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Pregnancy


  • Bilirubin