The value of serum ferritin in assessing iron status was studied in 192 preschool age children between the ages of 3 and 60 months. Children were considered to have iron deficiency if the transferrin saturation was less than 16% and the peripheral smear revealed microcytosis and hypochromia. Anemia was present when hemoglobin level was 10.5 g/dl. According to this criteria, 46% of children screened had either iron deficiency (11.5%) or iron deficiency anemia (34.4%). Mean serum ferritin for the iron deficiency anemia group was 39.1 ng/mg as compared to 41.7 ng/ml for the iron deficiency group and 84.7 ng/ml for the normal group. Even though the serum ferritin level was lower in the iron deficiency group, the difference in the means did not reach statistical significance. Furthermore, only 30% of children who had either iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia had serum ferritin level of less than 12 ng/ml, the level considered diagnostic for iron deficiency. It can be concluded that serum ferritin cannot be used alone for iron status determination. Multiple parameters will make the assessment more reliable.

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