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J Nutr. 2006 Sep;136(9):2345-9.

Preconception maternal iron status is a risk factor for iron deficiency in infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).

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Harlow Center for Biological Psychology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA.


Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency during pregnancy, and maternal anemia has been associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. However, it is still not clear how directly maternal iron status is linked to the infant's iron status postpartum. We investigated the impact of maternal iron deficiency on the hematological status of infant rhesus monkeys. Two groups of females, 8 iron deficient and 8 iron sufficient were assessed through pregnancy and for 6 mo postpartum. At conception, 4 females in each group were provided an iron-enriched diet. Iron status of the infant at birth reflected the preconception status of the mother, regardless of diet. Serum ferritin (Ft) concentrations were significantly higher in infants born to iron-sufficient mothers and were correlated with maternal transferrin saturation at entrance to the study (r = 0.52, P < 0.04). Infant iron status continued to reflect prenatal conditions through 6 mo of age. Our study confirmed the importance of iron sufficiency in gravid female monkeys for ensuring their infants' normal hematological development postpartum. A dietary intervention during pregnancy with only a moderate addition of iron was not sufficient to prevent the offspring from developing iron deficiency. These findings stress the importance of improving iron nutriture prior to conception.

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