[Biological diagnosis of iron deficiency in children].Arch Pediatr. 2017 May; 24(5S):5S6-5S13.AP
Measurement of serum ferritin (SF) is currently the laboratory test recommended for diagnosing iron deficiency. In the absence of an associated disease, a low SF value is an early and highly specific indicator of iron deficiency. The WHO criteria proposed to define depleted storage iron are 12μg/L for children under 5 years and 15μg/L for those over 5 years. A higher threshold of 30μg/L is used in the presence of infection or inflammation. Iron deficiency anemia, with typical low mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular hemoglobin, is only present at the end stage of iron deficiency. Other diagnostic tests for iron deficiency including iron parameters (low serum iron, increased total iron-binding capacity, low transferrin saturation) and erythrocyte traits (low mean corpuscular volume, increased zinc protoporphyrin) provide little additional diagnostic value over SF. In children, serum soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) has been reported to be a sensitive indicator of iron deficiency and is relatively unaffected by inflammation. On the other hand, sTfR is directly related to extent of erythroid activity and not commonly used in clinical practice. In population surveys, approaches based on combinations of markers have been explored to improve the specificity and sensitivity of diagnostic. In addition to Hb value determination, a combination of parameters (among transferrin saturation, zinc protoporphyrin, mean corpuscular volume or serum ferritin) was generally used to assess iron deficiency. More recently sTfR/ ferritin index were evaluated, sTfR in conjunction with SF allowing to better distinguishing iron deficiency from inflammatory anemia. Also, hepcidin measurements appeared an interesting marker for diagnosing iron deficiency and identifying individuals in need of iron supplementation in populations where inflammatory or infectious diseases are frequently encountered. Reticulocyte Hb content (CHr) determination is an early parameter of iron deficiency erythropoiesis. CHr can be measured with several automated hematology analyzers and so, used for individual's iron status assessment. In addition to Hb concentration determination, individual's iron status is commonly assessed in the pediatric clinical practice by the SF measurement accompanied by the determination of C-reactive protein for detection of a simultaneous acute infection and/or inflammation.