High iron level in early pregnancy increased glucose intolerance

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2015 Apr;30:220-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.09.004. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


High iron stores in pregnancy are essential in preventing negative outcomes for both infants and mothers; however the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) might also be increased. We intend to study the relationship between increased iron stores in early pregnancy and the risk of glucose intolerance and GDM. This prospective, observational, single-hospital study involved 104 non-anemic pregnant women, divided into 4 groups based on the quartile values for ferritin at the first trimester of pregnancy. All participants were screened for GDM with 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at 24-28 weeks' gestation. We observed that ferritin levels at early pregnancy were significantly correlated to glucose level after OGTT at 1-h and 2-h (rho=0.21, p<0.05; rho=0.43, p<0.001 respectively). Furthermore, in the higher quartile for ferritin (>38.8μg/L) glycemia at 2-h OGTT was significantly higher than in the others quartiles (p=0.002). In multivariate regression analysis, serum ferritin was a significant determinant of glycemia at 2-h OGTT. Although we did not find a significant association in the incidence of GDM in women with higher serum ferritin levels, probably in reason to the limit power of our study, our data demonstrated that the role of iron excess is tightly involved in the pathogenesis of glucose intolerance. We report for the first time that high ferritin values in early pregnancy are predictors of impaired glucose tolerance in non-anemic women. Individual iron supplementation should be evaluated in order to minimize glucose impairment risk in women with high risk of diabetes.

Keywords: Ferritin; Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM); Glucose intolerance.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood*
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Iron / blood*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First / blood*


  • Hemoglobins
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins
  • Iron