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Cord blood transferrin receptors to assess fetal iron status
  1. David G Sweet,
  2. Geraldine A Savage,
  3. Richard Tubman,
  4. Terence R J Lappin,
  5. Henry L Halliday
  1. Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  1. Dr Sweet, Perinatal Room, Royal Maternity Hospital, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BB, Northern Ireland email:dsweet{at}


OBJECTIVE To study iron status at different gestational ages using cord blood serum transferrin receptors (STfRs).

METHODS STfRs, iron, ferritin, total iron binding capacity, haemoglobin, and reticulocytes were measured in 144 cord blood samples. The babies were divided into three groups according to gestation (26 very preterm (24–29 weeks); 50 preterm (30–36 weeks); 68 term (37–41 weeks)).

RESULTS Serum iron, ferritin, and total iron binding capacity were highest at term, whereas reticulocytes were highest in the very preterm. STfR levels were not influenced by gestation. Haemoglobin (r = 0.46; p < 0.0001) and reticulocytes (r = 0.42; p < 0.0001) were the only indices that independently correlated with STfR levels.

CONCLUSIONS STfR levels in cord blood are not directly influenced by gestation and probably reflect the iron requirements of the fetus for erythropoiesis.

  • erythropoiesis
  • iron metabolism
  • reticulocytes
  • transferrin receptors

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