[Diagnosis of hypochromic microcytic anemia in children]

Arch Pediatr. 2012 Mar;19(3):295-304. doi: 10.1016/j.arcped.2011.12.016. Epub 2012 Feb 5.
[Article in French]


Iron deficiency is the most frequent cause of hypochromic microcytic anemia in children, but other causes, some of them requiring specific management, may be involved. Checking the iron-status is absolutely mandatory. When iron-status parameters are low, inadequate intake, malabsorption, blood loss, and abnormal iron utilization must be tested. In absence of iron deficiency, α- and β-globin and heme biosynthetic gene status must be checked. Assessing the iron stock level is difficult, because there is an overlap between the values observed in iron-replete and iron-deprived patients, so that at least 2 iron-status parameters must be below normal for diagnosing iron deficiency. Furthermore, inflammation may also mimic some characteristics of iron deficiency. Diagnosing iron deficiency leads to prescribing iron supplementation with follow-up at the end and 3 months after cessation of treatment. When iron stores are not replete at the end of treatment, compliance and dosage must be reevaluated and occult bleeding sought. The latter is also required when the iron store decreases 3 months after cessation of iron replacement.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / etiology
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / therapy
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heme / genetics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / blood
  • Male
  • alpha-Globins / genetics
  • beta-Globins / genetics


  • alpha-Globins
  • beta-Globins
  • Heme
  • Iron

Supplementary concepts

  • Anemia, hypochromic microcytic