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[Review of haematology and biochemistry parameters to identify iron deficiency].

INTRODUCTION: There has been a continuous improvement in the methods to detect iron deficiency, a common condition in children, in the last decades or so, but it is still difficult to establish which parameters should be included in a diagnostic panel for iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the diagnostic efficiency of commonly used haematological and biochemical markers, as well as the reticulocyte haemoglobin content (CHr) in the diagnosis of iron deficiency with or without anaemia.

STUDY DESIGN: A descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out on an urban population of both sexes aged 6 months to 14 years. A complete blood cell count with CHr was obtained. Biochemical markers of iron metabolism, transferrin saturation, serum iron, ferritin and total iron binding capacity were also measured.

RESULTS: Samples were obtained for 237 children. A multiple stepwise logistic regression analysis identified CHr and iron serum as the only parameters independently associated to iron deficiency (P<0.05). CHr was the strongest predictor of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study indicates that the measurement of CHr may be a reliable method to assess deficiencies in tissue iron supply. CHr together with a complete blood count may provide an alternative to the traditional biochemical panel for the diagnosis of iron deficiency in children.

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