Infant arterial stiffness and maternal iron status in pregnancy: a UK birth cohort (Baby VIP study)

Nisreen A Alwan, Janet E Cade, Harry J McArdle, Darren C Greenwood, Helen E Hayes, Etienne Ciantar, Nigel A B Simpson

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: In animal studies, iron deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to increased offspring cardiovascular risk. No previous population studies have measured arterial stiffness early in life to examine its association with maternal iron status.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the association between maternal iron status in early pregnancy with infant brachio-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV).

METHODS: The Baby VIP (Baby's Vascular Health and Iron in Pregnancy) study is a UK-based birth cohort which recruited 362 women after delivery from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals postnatal wards. Ferritin and transferrin receptor levels were measured in maternal serum samples previously obtained in the first trimester. Infant brachio-femoral PWV was measured during a home visit at 2-6 weeks.

RESULTS: Iron depletion (ferritin <15 μg/l) was detected in 79 (23%) women in early pregnancy. Infant PWV (mean = 6.7 m/s, SD = 1.3, n = 284) was neither associated with maternal ferritin (adjusted change per 10 μg/l = 0.02, 95% CI: -0.01, 0.1), nor with iron depletion (adjusted change = -0.2, 95% CI: -0.6, 0.2). No evidence of association was observed between maternal serum transferrin receptor level and its ratio to ferritin with infant PWV. Maternal anaemia (<11 g/dl) at ≤20 weeks' gestation was associated with a 1.0-m/s increase in infant PWV (adjusted 95% CI: 0.1, 1.9).

CONCLUSION: This is the largest study to date which has assessed peripheral PWV as a measure of arterial stiffness in infants. There was no evidence of an association between markers of maternal iron status early in pregnancy and infant PWV. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Early online date12 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

We are sincerely grateful to all study participants. Our thanks go to Angela Wray, Julie Grindey and Viv Dolby for data collection; Antony Hales, Russel Booth, Ruth Owen and Christine Kennedy for facilitating laboratory analysis, and Stephen Greenwald for advice on PWV measurement. Source of funding: N.A.A. is funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship (WT87789). H.J.M. and H.E.H. are supported by the Scottish Government Rural and Environmental Services (RESAS). N.A.B.S. is supported by Cerebra.


  • vascular stiffness
  • iron
  • pregnancy
  • infant
  • micronutrients
  • anaemia


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