Ferritin and iron levels in children with autistic disorder

Eur J Pediatr. 2012 Jan;171(1):143-6. doi: 10.1007/s00431-011-1506-6. Epub 2011 Jun 4.


Iron has an important role on cognitive, behavioral, and motor development. High prevalence of iron deficiency has been reported in autism. The aim of this study was to investigate iron status in a group of children with autistic disorder. The sample was composed of 116 children between 3 and 16 years with a diagnosis of autistic disorder according to DSM-IV criteria. Serum ferritin, iron, hemoglobin, hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, and red cell distribution width values were measured. We found that 24.1% of subjects had iron deficiency, and 15.5% had anemia. There was a significant positive correlation between age and ferritin and hematological measures. Results of this study confirmed that iron deficiency and anemia are common in children with autistic disorder.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that ferritin levels should be measured in subjects with autism as a part of routine investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / blood*
  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Hematologic Tests
  • Humans
  • Iron / blood*
  • Male


  • Ferritins
  • Iron