Iron deficiency in Australian-born children of Arabic background in central Sydney

Med J Aust. 2001 Feb 19;174(4):165-8. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143208.x.


Objectives: To determine the prevalence of iron depletion and deficiency, and iron-deficiency anaemia, along with risk factors for iron depletion, in Australian-born children aged 12-36 months of Arabic-speaking background.

Design: Community-based survey.

Setting: Central Sydney Area Health Service (CSAHS), NSW, April to August, 1997.

Participants: All children born at five Sydney hospitals between 1 May 1994 and 30 April 1996, whose mothers gave an Arabic-speaking country of birth and resided in the area served by the CSAHS.

Main outcome measures: Full blood count (haemoglobin, mean corpuscular haemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume), plasma ferritin concentration, haemoglobin electrophoresis, potential risk factors for iron depletion.

Results: Families of 641 of the 1,161 eligible children were able to be contacted, and 403 agreed to testing (response rate, 62.9% among those contacted). Overall, 6% of children had iron-deficiency anaemia, another 9% were iron deficient without anaemia, and 23% were iron depleted. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed three significant independent risk factors for iron depletion: <37 weeks' gestation (odds ratio [OR], 5.88, P=0.001); mother resident in Australia for less than the median time of 8.5 years (OR, 1.96, P=0.016); and daily intake of >600 mL cows' milk (OR, 3.89, P=<0.001).

Conclusion: Impaired iron status is common among children of Arabic background, and targeted screening is recommended for this group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle East / ethnology
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Ferritins