Relationships between Maternal Obesity and Maternal and Neonatal Iron Status

Nutrients. 2018 Jul 30;10(8):1000. doi: 10.3390/nu10081000.


: Obesity in pregnancy may negatively influence maternal and infant iron status. The aim of this study was to examine the association of obesity with inflammatory and iron status in both mother and infant in two prospective studies in pregnancy: UPBEAT and SCOPE. Maternal blood samples from obese (n = 245, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m²) and normal weight (n = 245, BMI < 25 kg/m²) age matched pregnant women collected at approximately 15 weeks' gestation, and umbilical cord blood samples collected at delivery, were analysed for a range of inflammatory and iron status biomarkers. Concentrations of C- reactive protein and Interleukin-6 in obese women compared to normal weight women were indicative of an inflammatory response. Soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) concentration [18.37 nmol/L (SD 5.65) vs 13.15 nmol/L (SD 2.33)] and the ratio of sTfR and serum ferritin [1.03 (SD 0.56) vs 0.69 (SD 0.23)] were significantly higher in obese women compared to normal weight women (P < 0.001). Women from ethnic minority groups (n = 64) had higher sTfR concentration compared with white women. There was no difference in maternal hepcidin between obese and normal weight women. Iron status determined by cord ferritin was not statistically different in neonates born to obese women compared with neonates born to normal weight women when adjusted for potential confounding variables. Obesity is negatively associated with markers of maternal iron status, with ethnic minority women having poorer iron statuses than white women.

Keywords: inflammation; iron status; obesity; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / ethnology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Fetal Blood / metabolism*
  • Hepcidins / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / etiology*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Iron / blood*
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Mothers
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Transferrin / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Hepcidins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins
  • Iron