Hematologic reference values for African American children and adolescents

Am J Hematol. 2007 Jul;82(7):611-4. doi: 10.1002/ajh.20848.


Anemia is prevalent among African American children. When evaluating pediatric patients for anemia, clinicians refer to the normative hematological reference values in reference textbooks. These reference values are used in spite of evidence that healthy African American people of all ages have average hemoglobin concentrations from 0.5 to 0.73 g/dl below those of Whites. In an earlier study, using samples from 2,161 healthy African American children from 2 to 18 years old, we found a statistically significant difference (P < 0.0001) in the mean hemoglobin value for each age group as compared to reference normative mean hemoglobin values. Here we present the results of a comparative analysis of the data set from our previous study and the data set from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys III (NHANES III) 1988-1994. We found no statistically significant difference between these data sets with respect to the hemoglobin values for any age or sex group, confirming that African American children and adolescents have lower mean hemoglobin values than do Whites. Use of the reference hemoglobin values presented here will help prevent the misdiagnosis of anemia in African American children and thereby minimize unnecessary hematological workups and treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / ethnology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Time Factors


  • Hemoglobins