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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 36

of 'Iron requirements and iron deficiency in adolescents'

Iron deficiency and iron overload in Swedish male adolescents.
Olsson KS, Marsell R, Ritter B, Olander B, Akerblom A, Ostergård H, Larsson O
J Intern Med. 1995;237(2):187.
OBJECTIVES: The present study was undertaken to confirm or reject recent findings indicating a high prevalence of iron deficiency in Swedish male adolescents; a second aim was to study the prevalence of genetic iron overload.
DESIGN: The diagnostic criteria were: anaemia: Hb<130 g L-1 (a): iron deficiency: serum ferritin (SF)<12 micrograms L-1 + transferrin saturation (TS)<16% (b): iron deficiency anaemia a + b. Iron overload: SF (90th percentile) + TS (90th percentile) in repeat tests.
SETTING: Central Sweden.
SUBJECTS: A total 3975 men aged 18 years studied on enrollment into military service.
RESULTS: Serum ferritin averaged 36.8 micrograms L-1. Anaemia was present in 0.5%, iron deficiency anaemia in 0.17% and iron deficiency in 0.4%. If iron deficiency is defined as SF<16 micrograms L-1, as was recently suggested, the prevalence would be 2.8%. Such a cut-off value would include 73% normal people (false positives). Iron overload had the same prevalence as iron deficiency, 0.4%.
CONCLUSIONS: Iron stores, as measured by serum ferritin, are small in young men studied at the end of their growth spurt. However, iron deficiency is rare. Therefore, the present study has not been able to confirm the high prevalence of iron deficiency recently reported. A prevalence of genetic haemochromatosis of 0.4%, confirms earlier findings and would mean that 12.6% of the population are heterozygotic carriers of the iron-loading genes. These findings give no support for a proposed, more effective iron-enrichment of food. It is not needed and can be harmful.
Department of Medicine, Mölndal Hospital, Sweden.