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April 3, 1978

Iron-Deficiency Pruritus

Author Affiliations

Helsinki University Central Hospital Helsinki

JAMA. 1978;239(14):1394. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280410036008

To the Editor.—  I read the article by Lewiecki and Rahman (236:2319, 1976) and the letter by Vickers (238:129, 1977) about iron deficiency and pruritus, and I would like to present some epidemiological findings that have relevance to this matter.During the years 1967 to 1972, the mobile clinic of the Social Insurance Institution in Finland carried out multiphasic screening examinations in various parts of the country. In all, 23,189 men and 19,902 women aged 15 years or older were examined.1In men, 0.7% of those screened had a hemoglobin level under 13 g/dl and serum transferrin saturation under 15%. According to a questionnaire, 13.6% of these men with iron deficiency anemia had frequent itching. The respective figure of the other men was 5.3%. The difference was highly significant (P<.001, even when adjusted for age).In women, 3.7% of those screened had a hemoglobin level under 12 g/dl and