Background: Zinc protoporphyrin/heme (ZnPP/H) ratios are indicators of incomplete erythrocyte iron delivery. ZnPP/H is more sensitive than measures of iron stores, such as plasma ferritin, in identifying early pre-anemic iron-deficient erythropoiesis. Cord ZnPP/H ratios are elevated in conditions associated with fetal hypoxia, such as diabetes mellitus during pregnancy. In chronic fetal hypoxemia, erythrocyte and hemoglobin syntheses are accelerated and iron is incorporated into erythrocytes. Cord ZnPP/H ratios are correlated with fetal size after diabetic pregnancy. Because fetal size is a surrogate for diabetes control, it is unclear whether glycemic control in diabetes mellitus or fetal size was the major determinant of ZnPP/H ratios and disturbed erythrocyte iron delivery. Objective: Our goal was to examine whether ZnPP/H ratios were elevated or were associated with growth in large-for-gestation newborns born to mothers without the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. Methods: In cord blood samples from large and appropriately grown healthy newborns, we measured ZnPP/H and indices of erythropoiesis and iron status. Analyses included simple linear regression, Fisher’s exact, and unpaired t testing. Results: In the absence of diabetes mellitus, ZnPP/H in 25 large and 24 appropriately grown healthy newborns was similar, and the ratios were within the limits of previously reported normal cord ZnPP/H. Ratios were not correlated with plasma ferritin levels. In large newborns, but not appropriately grown newborns, ZnPP/H ratios were positively correlated with fetal growth (p < 0.03) and estimates of body hemoglobin (p <0.04). Conclusions: Despite 33% greater body hemoglobin mass observed in healthy large, compared to appropriately grown newborns, mean ZnPP/H was normal. Iron incorporation into erythrocytes in large newborns appears adequate. Because the association of ZnPP/H with size and estimated body hemoglobin was observed only in large newborns, factors determining ZnPP/H may differ between large and appropriately grown newborns.
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