Objective: To determine the effects of maternal diabetes on fetal iron status using serum transferrin receptors (STfR) and their ratio to ferritin (TfR-F index) in cord blood.
Methods: Iron, ferritin, erythropoietin, STfR and haemoglobin concentration were measured and TfR-F index calculated in 97 maternal/cord blood pairs. Forty-nine women had type 1 diabetes (diagnosed before pregnancy) and these were compared with forty-eight non- diabetic controls. The women with type 1 diabetes were recruited consecutively from attendance at the joint antenatal endocrine clinic while the control group of women was recruited from consecutive attendance at the remaining antenatal clinics.
Results: The infants of the diabetic women had significantly lower levels of ferritin (47 vs 169 μg/l; p<0.01) and higher STfR (17.4 vs 12.9 mg/l; p<0.01) and TfR-F index (10.4 vs 5.8; p<0.01) than controls. They were also significantly more acidotic at birth (7.25 vs 7.30; p<0.01), were born at an earlier gestation (36.7 vs 39.7 weeks; p<0.01) and had higher z Scores for weight (0.53 vs 0.02; p = 0.016).
Conclusions: Maternal diabetes causes depletion of fetal iron stores and is associated with higher fetal iron demands as indicated by higher STfR level and TfR-F index in cord blood.
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