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To evaluate the use of reticulocyte hemoglobin content (CHr) and mean corpuscular volume (MCV) to identify truly iron-deficient women with postpartum anemia (PPA), in order to reduce unnecessary iron supplementation. Three hundred women with more than 500 mL of blood loss or clinical signs of anemia were divided in a control (Hb ≥ 10.5 g/dL, N = 150) and postpartum anemia group (PPA, Hb < 10.5 g/dL; N = 150). PPA women were given ferrous fumarate for a period of 4 weeks. Efficacy of the treatment was evaluated by comparing Hb, CHr, and MCV at baseline (T(0)) and after 4 weeks (T(4)). Using standard iron deficiency cut off values for MCV (80 fL) and CHr (28 pg) at T(0), we divided the PPA group of both parameters into two subgroups, one suggestive for iron deficiency and one suggestive for noniron deficiency. Irrespective of the parameter or the subdivision, delta Hb concentrations (T(4) -T(0)) showed a similar increase in all PPA subgroups investigated. Both parameters in the PPA subgroups below their respective cut off value showed a significant improvement toward normalization, while the MCV and CHr in the PPA subgroups above their respective cut off value did not show any significant increase. Our data suggest that the etiology of the anemia in postpartum anemic women is not always iron deficiency. Using a combination of Hb, MCV and CHr, we increased the stringency to identify truly iron-deficient postpartum anemic women, thereby reducing unnecessary iron supplementation in those women with sufficient iron stores. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


C Ramakers, D A A van der Woude, J M Verzijl, J M A Pijnenborg, E M van Wijk. An added value for the hemoglobin content in reticulocytes (CHr) and the mean corpuscular volume (MCV) in the diagnosis of iron deficiency in postpartum anemic women. International journal of laboratory hematology. 2012 Oct;34(5):510-6

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PMID: 22548729

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