Date Published: 
Monday, 15 September, 2014

Blood donation and Asian ethnicity are strong predictors of iron deficiency in women, according to a new study

New data reveals an increased risk of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in premenopausal women who are of Asian ethnicity, regularly donate blood and who have a previous history of iron deficiency. The analysis also indicates that dietary patterns have a smaller, but still substantial, effect on the risk of developing the condition.

Iron deficiency is a major contributor to anaemia, which affects nearly one-quarter of the world’s population1. Previous studies have investigated risk factors for iron deficiency, including individual nutrient intake and ethnicity. However, prior investigations did not consider dietary patterns in combination with non-dietary determinants likely to influence iron status, such as blood loss2–4.

This study investigated dietary patterns and non-dietary determinants of suboptimal iron status (serum ferritin < 20 ug/L) in 375 premenopausal women. Using multiple logistic regression analysis, determinants were found to be blood donation in the past year (odds ratio [OR]: 6.00; p<0.001], Asian ethnicity (OR: 4.84; p<0.001), and previous iron deficiency (OR: 2.19; p=0.016).

In addition, a diet rich in milk and yoghurt was found to be associated with increased risk for iron deficiency, as was longer duration of menstruation. Calcium (found in high quantities in milk and yoghurt) is thought to inhibit heme and nonheme iron absorption, leading to iron deficiency5.

The authors conclude that both dietary patterns and non-dietary determinants are associated with suboptimal iron status in premenopausal women and should be considered when identifying and treating women at risk of iron deficiency and anaemia.

The full article is available in the June 2014 issue of Biomed Research International. For information on iron deficiency in women, please click here.