Maternal iron and zinc supplementation during pregnancy affects body weight and iron status in rat pups at weaning

Mohammad B. Hossain, Shannon L. Kelleher, Bo Lönnerdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Pregnant women worldwide are frequently iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) deficient. Therefore, cosupplementation with Fe and Zn during pregnancy is common. Although Fe supplementation programs are successful, studies suggest that Zn supplementation negatively affects maternal Fe metabolism. However, little is known about the effects of maternal Fe or Zn supplementation on Fe metabolism in the offspring. We developed a rat model to investigate if Fe and/or Zn supplementation during pregnancy affects regulation of nonheme Fe absorption and Fe status in offspring and if these effects are dependent upon maternal Fe and Zn status at conception. Control (C; fed a Fe- and Zn-adequate diet; 75 and 25 mg/g, respectively) or Fe- and Zn-deficient (D; fed a Fe- and Zn-deficient diet; 12 and 10 μg/g, respectively) rats were supplemented with Fe(27 mg/wk), Zn (4.5 mg/wk), Fe+Zn (27 mg Fe, 4.5 mg Zn/wk), or placebo throughout pregnancy. At postnatal d 21, body weight (BW), hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (Hct), liver and intestine Fe concentration, liver hepcidin, and intestine Fe transporter expression were determined in pups. Zn supplementation of C dams decreased pup BW (P < 0.0001), whereas it increased pup BW in D dams (P < 0.0001). Zn supplementation of C dams did not affect Hb and Hct in pups but increased the liver Fe concentration (P = 0.0002). However, Zn supplementation of D dams decreased hepcidin expression in their offspring (P < 0.0001). In C dams, Fe and Fe+Zn supplementation decreased ferroportin levels in pup intestine compared with pups from unsupplemented dams (P < 0.05). In conclusion, Zn supplementation of dams with adequate Fe and Zn status increases offspring liver Fe concentration and postnatally compromises BW. Therefore, potential adverse effects of Zn supplementation should be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-804
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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