RESEARCH – May 2004

Iron deficiency anaemia – prevalence and causes in infants


Articles PDF


Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is the most common dis-ease caused by feeding. Anaemia affects approximately 42% of children younger than 5 years in developing countries and 17% in industrial countries. With iron deficiency (ID) prevention programs, the prevalence of IDA has decreased to 2,3–8% and that of ID to7–34%. Infants and young children are at particular risk of iron deficiency due to the high demand of iron and low amount of available iron in their diet during the period of rapid growth.
Aims. To investigate the prevalence and causes of ID and IDA in 9–12 month-old infants in Tartu.
Methods. A group of infants, aged 9–12 months, was randomly selected from among the infants of Tartu and a questionnaire was sent to their parents. Complete blood count, serum ferritin (S-Ferrit), soluble transferrin receptors (S-sTfR) and C-reactive protein (S-CRP) concentration were measured in 50 infants. Anaemia was defined as Hb <110 g/l, and ID as S-Ferrit <10 ng/ml.
Results. Six (12%) infants of 50 had IDA, 5 (10%) had ID and 9 (18%) had anaemia without ID. The rea-son for ID was the cow’s milk given to infants before the age of 8 months, and iron supplemented food after 8 months of age. Secondary ID caused by non-absorption of iron (like celiac disease) had not been diagnosed in any of the cases.
Conclusion. The prevalence of anaemia among 9–12 month-old infants in Tartu was 30%, the preva-lence of ID was 10% and that of IDA 12%. The high prevalence suggests that the cut-off criteria should be re-evaluated. More attention should be given to the prevention of IDA.