Research Article| Volume 29, ISSUE 3, P268-278, March 2019

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Ferritin levels throughout childhood and metabolic syndrome in adolescent stage

Published:December 04, 2018DOI:


      • The iron-Metabolic syndrome (MetS) link in early life has been little studied.
      • Sustained high ferritin during childhood was related to higher MetS score in boys.
      • The change of ferritin per year was positively associated with MetS in girls.


      Background and aim

      Increased ferritin levels have been widely associated with cardiovascular risk in adults. Whether ferritin levels and their changes during childhood are related to metabolic syndrome (MetS) at adolescence is unknown. We aimed to evaluate these associations using levels of ferritin at 5, 10 and 16 years and their linear increases and patterns of sustained increased levels across childhood.

      Methods and results

      There were four samples evaluated according to non-missing values for study variables at each stage (5 years: 562; 10 years: 381; and 16 years: 567 children; non-missing values at any stage: 379). MetS risk was evaluated as a continuous Z score. Patterns of sustained increased ferritin (highest tertile) and slope of the change of ferritin per year across the follow-up were calculated. Ferritin levels in the highest versus lowest tertile at five and 16 years were significantly positively associated with MetS risk Z score at adolescence in boys and these associations were unaffected by adjustment for covariates. Having high, compared to low/moderate ferritin level at 2 or more time periods between 5 and 16 years was related to higher Mets Z-score in boys only [e.g. 5–10 years adjusted-beta (95 %CI):0.26 (0.05–0.48),P < 0.05]. In girls, ferritin Z score at 10 and 16 years was positively and independently associated with HOMA-IR Z score. In girls, the slope of ferritin per year in the highest tertile was positively associated with MetS risk Z-score [adjusted-beta (95 %CI):0.21 (0.05–0.38),P < 0.05].


      Ferritin levels throughout childhood are positively related to cardiometabolic risk in adolescence, with associations varying by sex.



      MetS (Metabolic syndrome), HDL-C (High density lipoprotein cholesterol), SBP (Systolic blood pressure), DBP (Diastolic blood pressure), TG (Triglyceride), BMI (Body mass index), WC (Waist circumference), CRP (C-reactive protein), HOMA-IR (homeostasis model assessment-Insulin Resistance)
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