Iron Deficiency May Increase Risk of Maternal Depression in Pregnancy

Iron Deficiency and DepressionAccording to researchers pregnant women who were Iron deficient were more likely to have increased levels of peri-natal depression.

Women between the ages of 18 and 25, who were either in the middle or towards the end of their pregnancy, participated in this retrospective study.  In a retrospective study, researchers look at past data of the participants.  Participants completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) questionnaire and had their blood drawn to assess their serum ferritin level, which is a biological marker of Iron storage.  31% of the participants were Iron deficient and on average these women (who were Iron deficient) scored significantly higher on the EPDS questionnaire compared with the participants who were iron sufficient.  By studying the ferritin level of women later on in their pregnancies researchers suggest a link exists between iron deficiency and antenatal (during or related to pregnancy) depression.

Several limitations were noted during the study.  Being a retrospective study did lead to the possibility that a reverse causality could exist, meaning antenatal depression could be what lead to an iron deficiency.  Additionally using a survey to determine depression levels was not the same as having a diagnosis of depression from a professional.  Lastly when designing the study researchers did not take into account the nutritional status of the participants during their pregnancy which along with the diagnosis of Iron deficiency could be a sign of general poor health and nutrition.

Further studies with a larger sample group are needed.



Does Iron Supplementation Promise Lower Heart Attack Risk?

Iron and HeartA new study identifies low levels of iron as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide and researchers look at iron supplementation as a low cost method for reducing the risk of heart disease.

Genomic data from over 48,000 people was used in this study.  Genetic variations were used as a way to determine a person’s iron level and its link to their cardiovascular disease risk (CVD).  Researchers looked at a trio of points located in the genome (the genetic material of an organism) where a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), an alteration in the DNA, can increase or decrease the iron status of a person. These SNPs were identified as rs1800562 and rs1799945 in the HFE gene and rs855791 in the TMPRSS6.  When these SNPs were reviewed researchers found those participants with the SNPs for higher iron status had reduced risks for coronary artery disease (CAD).

Current research has shown mixed results regarding iron and cardiovascular disease.  High iron stores have also been associated with increased risks factors for CVD, like Type 2 Diabetes.  Observational studies have also shown a protective effect of increased iron levels on CAD as wells as an increased death rate in patients with iron deficiency and heart failure.

This study used the Mendelian randomization technique, which has been proven effective in accounting for reverse causation, lifestyle factors or environmental factors.  The World Health Organization estimates approximately 2 billion people worldwide do not get enough iron from their diet, which can lead to anemia, shortness of breath, increased risk of infections, heart palpitations, and may cause tiredness.