(HealthDay News) – Maternal obesity is associated with impaired iron transfer to the fetus, possibly through upregulation of hepcidin.

Maria C Dao, from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, and colleagues examined the effect of obesity-related inflammation on maternal and fetal iron status in 15 obese and 15 lean control women recruited in their second trimester of pregnancy. Maternal and cord blood was used to measure markers of iron status, inflammation, and hepcidin.

The researchers found that maternal C-reactive protein and hepcidin were significantly higher in the obese group compared to the controls, while cord blood iron was significantly lower in the obese group compared with lean controls. There was a significant negative correlation between maternal body mass index and hepcidin with cord blood iron status.

“In conclusion, we have shown, for the first time, that maternal obesity is associated with impaired iron transfer to the fetus,” the authors write. “We speculate that this is due to the effects of a chronic proinflammatory environment and increased levels of hepcidin.”

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