Serum transferrin receptor levels in the evaluation of iron deficiency in the neonate

Acta Paediatr Jpn. 1996 Oct;38(5):455-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200x.1996.tb03526.x.


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a major global problem. Early onset of iron deficiency in developing countries makes it imperative to identify iron deficiency in neonates. Most conventional laboratory parameters of iron status fail to distinguish neonates with iron deficient erythropoiesis. Serum transferrin receptor (STFR) levels are a recent sensitive measure of iron deficiency and the present study was carried out to evaluate the usefulness of cord serum transferrin receptors in identifying iron deficient erythropoiesis in neonates. A complete hemogram, red cell indices, iron profile: serum iron (SI), percent transferrin saturation (TS%) and serum ferritin (SF) was carried out in 100 full-term neonates and their mothers at parturition. Cord and maternal STFR levels were estimated using a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technique. Anemic women had a significantly lower SI, their TS% and high STFR levels suggesting that iron deficiency was responsible for the anemia. In the neonates of iron deficient mothers, cord SI, TS% and cord ferritin were not significantly different from those of neonates born to non-anemic mothers. Cord STFR level correlated well with hemoglobin (Hb) and laboratory parameters of iron status, and its level was significantly higher in neonates born to anemic mothers than in those born to non-anemic mothers. It was the only laboratory parameter to differentiate between neonates born to anemic and non-anemic mothers. Therefore, STFR is a sensitive index of iron status in neonates and identifies neonates with iron deficient erythropoiesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / congenital*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood*
  • Receptors, Transferrin / blood*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Hemoglobins
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Ferritins