Reference Values of Reticulocyte Hemoglobin Content and Their Relation With Other Indicators of Iron Status in Healthy Children

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Abstract

Reticulocyte hemoglobin content (CHr) is considered an indicator of functional iron deficiency, but is understudied in children. The goals of this study are to determine the reference intervals for CHr in healthy children, and their relation with iron parameters, erythropoiesis, and individual conditions. A total of 902 children without iron deficiency, aged 1 to 11 years were analyzed in a cross-sectional study. Besides a physical examination of the subjects and a questionnaire completed by their parents, the complete blood count, serum transferrin receptor, ferritin, transferrin saturation, erythrocyte protoporphyrin, serum erythropoietin, C-reactive protein, and CHr levels were measured. Changes in CHr, iron status, and erythropoiesis at different age intervals were analyzed and linear multiple regression was used to identify the factors that determine CHr variability. Mean value obtained for CHr was 30.9±1.8 pg (P2.5-P97.5: 26.9 to 34.3 pg), but the influence of age on CHr (the values increased with age) and on the iron parameters justified the establishment of different reference ranges. In addition to age, nutritional status, hematologic measurements, reticulocytes, transferrin saturation, and erythrocyte protoporphyrin accounted for 39% of CHr variability.

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