Background: We aimed to evaluate whether serum hepcidin is a useful indicator of iron status in infants.
Methods: Term infants (n = 400) were randomized to delayed (≥180 s) or early (≤10 s) cord clamping (CC). Iron status was assessed at 4 and 12 months. In all cases with iron depletion or iron deficiency (ID) (as defined in “Methods”) (n = 30) and 97 randomly selected iron-replete infants, we analyzed hepcidin and explored its correlation to the intervention, iron status, and perinatal factors.
Results: Serum hepcidin concentrations were significantly lower in the early CC group at both time points and in ID infants at 4 months. Median (2.5th-97.5th percentile) hepcidin in non-ID infants in the delayed CC group (suggested reference) was 64.5 (10.9-142.1), 39.5 (3.5-157.7), and 32.9 (11.2-124.2) ng/mL in the cord blood and at 4 and 12 months, respectively. The value of 16 ng/mL was a threshold detecting all cases of iron depletion/ID at 4 months. No similar threshold for ID was observed at 12 months. The strongest predictor of hepcidin at both ages was ferritin.
Conclusions: Hepcidin is relevant as iron status indicator in early infancy and may be useful to detect ID. Levels <16 ng/mL at 4 months of age indicates ID.
Impact: Serum hepcidin is a relevant indicator of iron status in early infancy.Normal reference in healthy infants is suggested in this study.Serum hepcidin may be useful in clinical practice to detect iron deficiency.