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Pediatrics. 2007 Nov;120(5):1053-7.

Association between iron-deficiency anemia and stroke in young children.

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Department of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Outcomes Research Team, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1X8.



Iron-deficiency anemia occurs with a peak prevalence of 4% to 8% in children between 1 and 3 years of age. Case reports have suggested an association between iron-deficiency anemia in healthy children and ischemic stroke. Our objective was to investigate whether iron-deficiency anemia is associated with stroke in young children.


A case-control study was conducted of case patients who were selected from the stroke registry at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and control subjects selected from a database of healthy children who were prospectively enrolled in an outpatient setting. Children were aged 12 to 38 months and were previously healthy with no identifiable risk factors for stroke. Age, gender, mean corpuscular volume, platelet count, and hemoglobin and ferritin levels were collected. Iron-deficiency anemia was defined as a hemoglobin level of <110 g/L, mean corpuscular volume <73 fL, and serum ferritin level <12 microg/L. Stroke was defined according to clinical and radiologic criteria.


Case (n = 15) and control (n = 143) subjects were similar with respect to median age and percentage of boys. Case patients had a lower median hemoglobin level and mean corpuscular volume and a higher median platelet count. Iron-deficiency anemia was significantly more common among case patients (8 [53%] of 15) than control subjects (13 [9%] of 143).


Previously healthy children with stroke were 10 times more likely to have iron-deficiency anemia than healthy children without stroke. Furthermore, children with iron-deficiency anemia accounted for more than half of all stroke cases in children without an underlying medical illness, which suggests that iron-deficiency anemia is a significant risk factor for stroke in otherwise healthy young children. Primary prevention and early identification of iron-deficiency anemia must remain a priority.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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