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November 1985

Decreased Iron Stores in High School Female Runners

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Nickerson) and Clinical Dietetics (Ms Holubets), Marshfield (Wis) Clinic; the Marshfield Senior High School (Mr Tripp); and the Marshfield Medical Foundation (Mr Pierce).

Am J Dis Child. 1985;139(11):1115-1119. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1985.02140130053029

The incidence of iron deficiency in healthy, white, middle-class adolescent females is 8.8%, with iron-deficiency anemia occurring in 4.8%.1 An increased risk of iron deficiency occurs in female athletes during strenuous exercise that is related to decreased dietary intake,2 and perhaps to increased losses of iron in sweat3 or excessive menstrual losses. Also, gastrointestinal tract blood loss has been observed in marathon runners and may occur in younger runners.4 Recently, 44% of 18 female, adolescent, cross-country runners were found to have iron deficiency to the midpoint of their running season when documented by serum ferritin (SF) levels of less than 9.8 ng/mL.5 Systemic iron deficiency has been documented in 40% of women joggers who had average increases in their hemoglobin levels of 1.7 g/dL after iron treatment.6

Herein, we report the first (to our knowledge) controlled, randomized study on the incidence and prevention of