Plasma Ferritin and Soluble Transferrin Receptor Concentrations and Body Iron Stores Identify Similar Risk Factors for Iron Deficiency but Result in Different Estimates of the National Prevalence of Iron Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anemia among Women and Children in Cameroon1-3

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Available iron status indicators reflect different aspects of metabolism. We compared the prevalence and distribution of iron deficiency (ID) and iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) among Cameroonian women and children, as measured by plasma ferritin, and soluble transferrin receptor concentrations, body iron stores (BIS), and hemoglobin, and evaluated the impact of adjustments for inflammation on these measures. In a nationally representative survey, we randomly selected 30 clusters in each of 3 zones (north, south, and large cities) and 10 households/ cluster, each with a child aged 12-59 mo and a woman 15-49 y. Ferritin and BIS were mathematically adjusted for inflammation, using plasma C-reactive protein and α1-acid glycoprotein both as continuous and categorical variables. Inflammation was present in 48.0% of children and 20.8% of women and anemia was diagnosed in 57.6% of children and 38.8% of women. Depending on the iron status indicator applied, the prevalence of ID ranged from 14.2 to 68.4% among children and 11.5 to 31.8% among women, and the prevalence of IDA ranged from 12.0 to 47.4% among children and 9.0 to 19.4% among women; the proportion of anemia associated with ID ranged from 20.8 to 82.3% among children and 23.2 to 50.0% among women. The different iron indicators generally identified similar groups at greatest risk of deficiency, using both conventional and derived cutoffs: younger children, pregnant women, and women and children in the north and rural areas. Research is needed to clarify the relationships between iron status indicators, particularly in the presence of inflammation, to harmonize global data on prevalence of ID.

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