Prevalence of haemochromatosis amongst asymptomatic Australians

Br J Haematol. 1990 Apr;74(4):525-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.1990.tb06345.x.


We determined the prevalence of iron overload due to homozygous haemochromatosis in an asymptomatic Australian (predominantly Caucasian) population by surveying 1968 employees of two large corporations. Subjects were screened by measurement of transferrin saturation and serum ferritin concentration and, in all subjects with elevation of both indices, percutaneous liver biopsy was performed to establish whether significant iron overload was present. The prevalence of iron overload due to haemochromatosis in this population was 0.36%. The prevalence rate was not significantly different between males and females, suggesting that this autosomal recessive disease is expressed equally in females given an adequate dietary iron supply. The positive predictive value of a transferrin saturation consistently greater than 45% together with an elevated serum ferritin concentration was 64%. It is concluded that the prevalence of significant iron overload due to homozygous haemochromatosis warranting treatment is approximately 1:300 and that transferrin saturation should be included in existing adult health screening programmes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Hemochromatosis / blood
  • Hemochromatosis / epidemiology*
  • Hemochromatosis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis
  • Liver / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Transferrin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron