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Infants of Diabetic Mothers Have Low Iron Stores

Findings suggest fetal response to chronic intrauterine hypoxia and increased erythropoiesis

THURSDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Babies of diabetic mothers have significantly lower iron stores than babies born to women without diabetes, a condition that suggests fetal response to chronic intrauterine hypoxia, researchers report in the September issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood -- Fetal and Neonatal Edition.

David G. Sweet, M.D., of the Royal Maternity Hospital in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and colleagues tested cord blood samples taken at birth of babies born to 49 women with type 1 diabetes mellitus and 48 non-diabetic controls.

Babies born to diabetic mothers had significantly lower levels of ferritin and significantly higher serum transferrin receptors and transferrin receptor index. They were also significantly more acidotic at birth, had significantly lower blood glucose levels and higher z scores for weight, and were born at an earlier point of gestation (a mean of 36.7 weeks versus 39.7 weeks in controls).

"It may be that the combination of increased growth, causing more rapid cell proliferation, with intrauterine hypoxia leads to excessive demands on the placental transfer capacity of iron, which is reduced in diabetic pregnancy, contributing to depleted fetal iron stores which are used to meet the cellular requirements," the authors conclude.

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