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March 26, 1997

Prevalence of Iron Deficiency in the United States

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Health Examination Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Md (Dr Looker, Ms Carroll, and Mr Johnson); the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (Dr Dallman); and the Division of Environmental Health Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga (Ms Gunter).

JAMA. 1997;277(12):973-976. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540360041028

Objective.  —To determine the prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in the US population.

Design.  —Nationally representative cross-sectional health examination survey that included venous blood measurements of iron status.

Main Outcome Measures.  —lron deficiency, defined as having an abnormal value for at least 2 of 3 laboratory tests of iron status (erythrocyte protoporphyrin, transferrin saturation, or serum ferritin); and iron deficiency anemia, defined as iron deficiency plus low hemoglobin.

Participants.  —A total of 24 894 persons aged 1 year and older examined in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994).

Results.  —Nine percent of toddlers aged 1 to 2 years and 9% to 11% of adolescent girls and women of childbearing age were iron deficient; of these, iron deficiency anemia was found in 3% and 2% to 5%, respectively. These prevalences correspond to approximately 700000 toddlers and 7.8 million women with iron deficiency; of these, approximately 240 000 toddlers and 3.3 million women have iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency occurred in no more than 7% of older children or those older than 50 years, and in no more than 1% of teenage boys and young men. Among women of childbearing age, iron deficiency was more likely in those who are minority, low income, and multiparous.

Conclusion.  —lron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are still relatively common in toddlers, adolescent girls, and women of childbearing age.