Anemia does not predict iron deficiency among toddlers

Author and Disclosure Information

  • Clinical Question: Does screening toddlers for anemia identify those with iron deficiency?
  • Study Design: Cohort (prospective)
  • Setting: Population-based
  • Synopsis: An insufficient level of iron (which is used in more than 200 enzymes in the body) is associated with developmental disabilities in young children. Measuring serum hemoglobin as an indicator of anemia is used to screen for iron deficiency in young children.


Bottom Line

These study results present a quandary: We cannot feel assured that a young child doesn’t have anemia if they show a normal hemoglobin level, and we can’t be sure that he or she has anemia if the hemoglobin level is low. Screening for iron deficiency in toddlers by checking serum hemoglobin misses most children with a deficiency, and most of the children with anemia do not have an iron deficiency. As the author of this study suggests, it might make more sense to continue low-dose supplementation of iron in all children rather than use a policy of screen and treat. (LOE=1c)

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