Study notes lower iron levels in newborns of obese mothers

MEDFORD, Mass. — Newborns born to obese mothers likely will face several health problems, including iron deficiency, according to research.

New research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and The Mother Infant Research Institute at Tufts Medical Center found that when examining 15 obese pregnant women with body mass index greater than 30 and 15 healthy weight pregnant women with BMIs between 20 and 25 as a control group, those born to an obese mother with elevated hepcidin levels was associated with lower iron status at birth. Obese adults are known to produce higher levels of hepcidin, compared with healthy weight adults, and the researchers suggested that overproduction of the hormone interferes with the transfer of iron from mother to infant. The results were recently published online by the Journal of Perinatology.

"When there is excess hepcidin in a cell, it binds to and inhibits the function of ferroportin, the protein that allows iron to pass through the cell membrane and into the bloodstream," said senior author Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.


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