Maternal haemoglobin levels in pregnancy and child DNA methylation: a study in the pregnancy and childhood epigenetics consortium

Justiina Roinkainen, Doretta Caramaschi, Debbie A Lawlor, Sylvain P Sebert*, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Altered maternal haemoglobin levels during pregnancy are associated with pre-clinical and clinical conditions affecting the fetus. Evidence from animal models suggests that these associations may be partially explained by differential DNA methylation in the newborn with possible long-term consequences. To test this in humans, we meta-analyzed the epigenome-wide associations of maternal haemoglobin levels during pregnancy with offspring DNA methylation in 3,967 newborn cord blood and 1,534 children and 1,962 adolescent whole-blood samples derived from 10 cohorts. DNA methylation was measured using Illumina Infinium Methylation 450K or MethylationEPIC arrays covering 450,000 and 850,000 methylation sites, respectively. There was no statistical support for the association of maternal haemoglobin levels with offspring DNA methylation either at individual methylation sites or clustered in regions. For most participants, maternal haemoglobin levels were within the normal range in the current study, whereas adverse perinatal outcomes often arise at the extremes. Thus, this study does not rule out the possibility that associations with offspring DNA methylation might be seen in studies with more extreme maternal haemoglobin levels.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
women. The high mortality rates present in Central and Eastern European countries for uterine cancer, particularly cervix cancer, also determine an important area for cancer prevention. About sixty scientists (see box) from 14 countries participated in a meeting on 2-4 September 1991 hosted by the All-Union Cancer Research Center in Moscow to discuss a cancer prevention programme for Central and Eastern Europe. This meeting was sponsored jointly by the Organisation of European Cancer Institute (OECI), the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), the Commission of the European Community (EC) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). An action plan for cancer prevention was adopted by the meeting and is reproduced on the facing page; further elaboration of this Executive Summary is also given in the Box.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Maternal haemoglobin
  • DNA methylation
  • developmental programming
  • pregnancy


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