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January 2022

Ann Clin Biochem. 1984 Jul; 21 ( Pt 4)(): 268-74.

Iron deficiency in a Northern Thai population: the effects of iron supplements studied by means of plasma ferritin estimations.

Linpisarn S, Thanangkul O, Suwanraj C, Kaewvichit R, Kricka LJ, Whitehead TP.

Iron deficiency is a common problem, particularly in developing countries, but traditional laboratory methods of detecting this condition are unreliable. The prevalence of iron deficiency in a Northern Thai population (pre-school, school children, adult women) has been assessed by means of plasma ferritin concentrations. The results were compared with prevalences based on blood haemoglobin concentrations. Estimations of prevalences based on plasma ferritin values were 10-24% in non-vegetarian and 49-71% in vegetarian groups, whilst those based on blood haemoglobin were 11-21% (non-vegetarian) and 24-50% (vegetarian). Dietary supplementation with iron produced dramatic rises in plasma ferritin in all of the groups studied. The effects on blood haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit were less marked. These results highlight the extent of iron deficiency in a Thai population and demonstrate the sensitivity of plasma ferritin as a test for detecting this condition and assessing the response to dietary supplementation.

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