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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 37-43

Hypochromic microcytic anemia: a clincopathological cross-sectional study

1 Department of Pediatric Hematology, Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt
2 Department of Clinical Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Maha Y Kamal
Doctor Degree in Pediatrics, MSc. Alexandria University, MBCHB Alexandria University
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AJOP.AJOP_8_17

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Background Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common cause of microcytic anemia, is a worldwide nutritional problem; its prevalence in the developing countries is three times higher than in the developed countries. It is a common disease in Egypt with a very high prevalence rate. It affects all age groups and all socioeconomic levels of the society. Identification of infants who are at risk for iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is vital as it impairs psychomotor development and growth and reduces physical activity and resistance to infection. Aim The aim of this work was to assess the prevalence of IDA among infants aged 6 months and 2 years presenting with hypochromic microcytic anemia and to determine the risk factors of iron deficiency among this age group. Participant and methods A total of 40 infants (6 months and 2 years) presenting with hypochromic microcytic anemia attending Alexandria University Children’s Hospital were included in this study. All were subjected to complete blood count, iron profile [serum ferritin (SF), serum iron, and total iron-binding capacity], and finding occult blood in stool. Those having normal iron profile were further subjected to capillary hemoglobin (Hb) electrophoresis and PCR for α-chain gene mutations to exclude β-thalassemias and α-thalassemias. Results Overall, 77.5% (31/40) of the studied infants had IDA, which represents the main cause of microcytic anemia in this study, whereas 17.5% (7/40) had β-thalassemia trait, diagnosed by increased HbA2 more than 3.5% by capillary Hb electrophoresis, and 5% (2/40) had α-thalassemia trait of the homozygous α3.7 (−α3.7/−α3.7) deletional type, detected by PCR for α-gene mutations. Moreover, this study showed that infants with IDA had significantly higher frequencies of preterm deliveries (48.38%) compared with β-thalassemia trait (14.28%), and α-thalassemia trait (0%), P=0.023, KWχ2=4.849. A significant positive correlation was found between Hb, serum iron, and SF levels of infants with IDA and both maternal Hb during pregnancy (r=0.937, P<0.001; rs=0.796, P<0.001; and rs=0.780, P<0.001, respectively) and maternal age (r=0.791, P<0.001; rs=0.749, P<0.001; and rs=0.671, P<0.001, respectively). The mean±SD weight of infants with IDA (9.91±1.61 kg) was significantly lower than that of infants having other microcytic anemias, P=0.039, KWχ2=5.659. Among infants with IDA, only five started weaning at an appropriate age, i.e., between 4 and 6 months, and their SF levels ranged between 8 and 9.4 μg/l, with a mean±SD of 8.58±1.10, which was statistically significantly higher than the SF levels among those who started weaning later (>6 months) (n=26), whose SF levels ranged between 2.0 and 5.9 μg/l, with a mean±SD of 4.04±1.10, P=0.001. Conclusion High prevalence of IDA was detected among infants presenting with microcytic hypochromic anemia (77.5%). The main risk factors for developing IDA include inadequate iron intake, preterm delivery, delayed onset of weaning, occult blood loss in stools owing to either early introduction of cow’s milk or parasitic infestations, and finally, infants born to young or anemic mothers.

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