Diet-induced iron deficiency anemia and pregnancy outcome in rhesus monkeys

Mari S. Golub, Casey E. Hogrefe, Alice F. Tarantal, Stacey L. Germann, John L. Beard, Michael K. Georgieff, Agustin Calatroni, Betsy Lozoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is relatively common in the third trimester of pregnancy, but causal associations with low birth weight and compromised neonatal iron status are difficult to establish in human populations. Objective: The objective was to determine the effects of diet-induced IDA on intrauterine growth and neonatal iron status in an appropriate animal model for third-trimester IDA in women. Design: Hematologic and iron-status measures, pregnancy outcomes, and fetal and neonatal evaluations were compared between pregnant rhesus monkeys (n = 14) fed a diet containing 10 μg Fe/g diet from the time of pregnancy detection (gestation days 28-30) and controls (n = 24) fed 100 μg Fe/g diet. Results: By the third trimester, 79% of the iron-deprived dams and 29% of the control monkeys had a hemoglobin concentration <11 g/dL. There were also significant group differences in hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, transferrin saturation, serum ferritin, and serum iron. At birth, the newborns of monkeys iron-deprived during pregnancy had significantly lower hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin values and a lower ratio of erythroid to total colony-forming units in bone marrow than did the control newborns. Pregnancy weight gain did not differ significantly between the iron-deprived and control dams, and the fetuses and newborns of the iron-deprived dams were not growth retarded relative to the controls. Gestation length, the number of stillbirths, and neonatal neurobehavioral test scores did not differ significantly by diet group. Conclusion: These data indicate that an inadequate intake of iron from the diet during pregnancy in rhesus monkeys can lead to compromised hematologic status of the neonate without indications of growth retardation or impaired neurologic function at birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2006


  • Anemia
  • Intrauterine growth retardation
  • Iron deficiency
  • Pregnancy
  • Rhesus monkeys


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