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Eur J Pediatr. 2010 Nov;169(11):1317-22. doi: 10.1007/s00431-010-1218-3. Epub 2010 May 19.

Thalassemia and iron deficiency in a group of northeast Thai school children: relationship to the occurrence of anemia.

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Graduate School, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.


The cross-sectional study assessed anemia, thalassemia, and hemoglobinopathies, as well as iron deficiency, among 190 northeastern Thai school children aged 10 to 11 years. The aim was to analyze the reasons for anemia among the group. Hemoglobin concentration and other hematological parameters were determined using an automated blood cell counter. Beta-thalassemia and other hemoglobinopathies were identified by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of hemoglobin. Alpha-thalassemia was identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and related techniques. Iron deficiency was assessed using serum ferritin (SF) <20 ng/ml as indicator. Based on the WHO criteria, anemia was defined by hemoglobin (Hb) level <11.5 g/dl. Twenty five out of 190 children (13.2%; 95% CI = 8.7-18.8%) were anemic. Iron deficiency was found in only two out of 190 children (1.0%; 95% CI = 0.1-3.8%), but the two iron deficient children were not anemic. The proportion of thalassemia and hemoglobinopathies among the group was 61.1% (95% CI = 53.7-68.0%). As underlying reasons for anemia, thalassemia and hemoglobinopathies were found in 22 out of 25 (88.0%) anemic children. Beta-thalassemia and homozygous Hb E seem to be important, while this was less obvious for heterozygous α-thalassemia and heterozygous Hb E.


The results suggest that thalassemia and hemoglobinopathies may be major contributing factors to the occurrence of anemia in this area among the children's population.

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