Celiac Disease: Association with Iron Supplement during Pregnancy?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Dr. Ketil Stordal
Researcher/consultant paediatrician
National Institute of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Stordal: Mothers who used iron supplementation during pregnancy had an increased risk for having children with a diagnosis of celiac disease. This association was not caused by maternal anemia during pregnancy, anemia was not a predictor of celiac disease in the offspring. The risk for celiac disease when the mother had used the highest doses and for the longest period.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Stordal: The findings were unexpected, and to our knowledge, the association has not been investigated before. However, studies have shown pro-inflammatory effects in the placenta after iron supplementation, and programming effects on the fetal immune system could be hypothesized.

The effect was not present for other kinds of nutritional supplements commonly used in health-conscious mothers as folic acid and multivitamins, and is unlikely to be driven by care-seeking behavior.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Stordal: Our findings are preliminary, and iron should be taken when deficiencies are present during pregnancy because of other beneficial effects on the fetal health. However, indiscriminant use of iron supplements should not be recommended.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Stordal: Biomarkers of iron overload or excess would be of interest in observational studies to study if the association between celiac disease and iron exposure in early life could be reproduced.


Maternal iron supplement intake during pregnancy and risk of celiac disease in children      

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Oct 7. pii: S1542-3565(13)01509-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2013.09.061. [Epub ahead of print]

Størdal K, Haugen M, Brantsæter AL, Lundin KE, Stene LC.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway; Østfold Hospital Trust, Fredrikstad, Norway

Last Updated on October 29, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD