How does maternal anemia affect the levels of umbilical cord brain-derived neurotrophic factor?

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2024 Jun:297:182-186. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2024.04.016. Epub 2024 Apr 19.


Objective: In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effect of maternal iron deficiency anemia on the umbilical cord level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays a very important role in the central nervous system.

Methods: Our research was planned as a quantitative, prospective, and analytical type of study. A total of 90 volunteers, term, singleton pregnant hospitalized in the Health Sciences University Ümraniye Training and Research Hospital Gynecology and Obstetrics Clinic between September 2021 and August 2022 were included in this study. While 45 of these pregnants were pregnant women with iron deficiency anemia (hemoglobin ≤ 110 g/L and serum ferritin level ≤ 12 μg/L), 45 cases were in the control group without iron deficiency anemia (hemoglobin > 110 g/L, serum ferritin > 12 μg/L). When pregnant were admitted to the hospital, blood samples were taken to analyze hemoglobin, mean cell volume (MCV), iron, unsaturated iron binding capacity, total iron binding capacity, serum ferritin, transferrin, and CRP levels. Also, we noted the maternal age, gravida, parity, birth weight, head circumference, type of birth, 1. minute Apgar score, and 5. minute Apgar score. During the delivery; after the umbilical cord had been clamped and cut, we took 5 cc of umbilical cord blood. Then, we put it in the serum-separating laboratory tubes. After we centrifuged these blood samples, we put the serum parts in the Eppendorf tubes to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius. At the end of the study, we calculated the level of BDNF using special human brain-derived neurotrophic factor ELISA kits. The umbilical cord BDNF levels of the maternal iron deficiency anemia group and the control group were compared statistically.

Results: When we evaluated the fetal umbilical cord BDNF values of 90 participants, the median value BDNF in the babies of 45 anemic mothers was 3.16 (IQR 0.73), and the median BDNF value of the babies of 45 healthy mothers was 5.37 (IQR 1.02). We found a statistical difference between BDNF and hemoglobin, hematocrit, MCV, and iron values between these two groups.

Conclusion: In conclusion, the BDNF value of the babies of healthy individuals is higher than that of anemic individuals. Our study showed that the amount of BDNF in the umbilical cord blood was significantly affected by maternal iron deficiency anemia.

Keywords: Anemia; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Maternal iron deficiency anemia; Neurotrophin; Umbilical cord blood.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / blood
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor* / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Fetal Blood* / chemistry
  • Fetal Blood* / metabolism
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Umbilical Cord


  • BDNF protein, human