Submitted to: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/31/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: In order to have a healthy pregnancy, a woman needs more iron, so it is recommended that she take a supplement. After delivery, however, her need for iron is not as clearly defined. We studied a group of lactating and nonlactating women, who were either taking supplements or not taking supplements after delivery, in order to evaluate how these factors affected dtheir iron and immune system status. The results showed nonlactating women who had previously given birth and who did not use vitamin supplements had a lower immune-system index in the first month postpartum than women who had never given birth. However, lactating women who used supplements had a lower immune-system index 4 to 8 months postpartum than controls who had never given birth. The immune-system index did not differ among nonlactating women who used supplements or lactating women who did not use them. Our findings indicate that iron status and use of supplements affect a woman's immune status after delivery.
Technical Abstract: Iron deficiency reduces T-cell counts while iron sufficiency is difficult to maintain during pregnancy and re-establish in the early postpartum. This cross-sectional study examined relationships among postpartum maternal iron status, parity, lactation, supplement use, and maternal blood T-cell populations. Sixty lactating and 41 non-lactating postpartum (NLPP) women at 1-2 weeks, 1, 2, 4, or 8 months postpartum and 13 nulliparous women wer studied. Among multiparous women, multiple linear regression showed that relative percents and absolute numbers of CD3+CD8+ cells were correlated positively with maternal serum transferrin saturation. In a separate multiple linear regression model, multiparous, NLPP women who did not use multivitamin-mineral supplements had reduced CD3+CD4+ cell percents in the first month postpartum compared to nulliparous controls. Lactating women who used supplements, however, had reduced CD3+CD4+ percents at 4-8 months postpartum compared to controls. CD3+CD4+ percents did not differ among controls, NLPP women who used supplements and lactating women who did not use them. These results suggest that nutritional factors like maternal iron status and use of dietary supplements play a role in a mother's postpartum immune status.