What is the Best Ferritin Threshold and Why It Needs to Be Checked In 1-Year-Olds

E Mantadakis. J Pediatr 2022; 245: 12-14. (Editorial) Open access. Serum Ferritin Threshold for Iron Deficiency Screening in One-Year-Old Children nutrition.

N Mukhtarova et al. J Pediatr 2022; 245: 217-221. Serum Ferritin Threshold for Iron Deficiency Screening in One-Year-Old Children. This study included 3153 infants, with 698 included in the final analysis.

Key points:

  • 11.4% had iron deficiency, 3.5% had iron deficiency anemia, 8.2% had anemia, and 76.9% were normal.
  • “The authors showed that the hemoglobin threshold of 110 g/L that  is currently recommended for diagnosing anemia at 1-year-old well-child visit corresponds with a very low serum ferritin (4.42 mcg/L).”
  • In a previous study, TARGet Kids!, “a higher serum ferritin was associated with higher cognitive function, with a serum ferritin of 17 mcg/L corresponding with the maximum level of cognition.” That is, iron deficiency, even in the absence of anemia, can contribute to detrimental cognitive outcomes.
  • Thus, current hemoglobin levels and ferritin need to be revised.  Neither a hemoglobin of 11.0 g/dL nor a ferritin of 12 mcg/L is sensitive in detecting iron deficiency in toddlers.
  • In the U.S., only ~40% of anemia in toddlers is attributable to iron deficiency; thus, checking a ferritin can help determine if iron supplementation is worthwhile.

My take: Iron deficiency anemia is a late indicator of iron deficiency and relying on hemoglobin alone could have irreversible detrimental effects on cognitive outcomes. These articles make a strong argument for the following:

  1. Use a ferritin threshold of at least 18 mcg/L to determine if iron deficient
  2. Check a ferritin along with a hemoglobin at 1-year well-child check. 

Related blog post: Briefly Noted: Ferritin Levels and Cognitive Outcomes

Rock Garden, Calhoun Ga

IQ and Pediatric Chronic Liver Disease

DH Leung et al. JPGN2022 – Volume 74 – Issue 1 – p 96-103. Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children With Inherited Liver Disease and Native Liver

In this longitudinal study, the authors evaluated Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) in children with chronic liver disease (mean age 7.6 yrs). Key finding:

  • Patients with Alagille syndrome (ALGS) are at increased risk of lower FSIQ (with 29% <85), whereas our data suggest A1AT and PFIC are not

Related blog posts:

Neurodevelopment Impairment in the Majority of Extremely Preterm Infants with Short Bowel Syndrome

Link to article (paywall)/abstract: Neurodevelopmental and Growth Outcomes of Extremely Preterm Infants with Short Bowel Syndrome

Key finding from study:

  • Moderate-severe neurodevelopmental impairment was present in 77% of children with extreme prematurity and with short bowel syndrome compared to 44% with extreme prematurity without necrotizing enterocolitis, spontaneous intestinal perforation or short bowel syndrome. 

One of the authors, Ira Adams-Chapman, recently passed away (link to obituary: Ira Adams-Chapman, 1965-2020). She and I were residents together in Cincinnati. She was a terrific person.