15 Sep Iron deficiency is very common in young women!
A new study published in JAMA showed that almost 40% of girls aged 12 to 21 in a cohort of almost 3500 had low iron levels (defined as ferritin below 25ug/L). One in 17 had levels low enough to cause anemia.
The researchers also found that iron deficiency was 30% higher among both Black and Latina young women compared with their non-Hispanic white girls.
The study author concluded: “Why are we not screening for a condition that is highly prevalent, easily diagnosed, easily treated, and associated with serious symptoms and increased risk of death if not addressed?”
I always advise patients to test for iron even if they are not anemic if they have heavy menstrual bleeding or blood in the stool. Sub-par iron stores can cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, and cold intolerance even in the absence of anemia. My goal for ferritin (a marker of iron in storage) is at least 50ug/L! Unfortunately, ferritin on its own is not a perfect measure because it can be elevated in the setting of inflammation or infection. Therefore, I always prefer to test hemoglobin, an iron panel, and ferritin!