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Screening for Nutritional Anemia
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
A hematocrit or a hemoglobin test can detect anemia. These tests are part of a complete blood count, which is often done during an annual physical exam, or as part of your prenatal exams. A hematocrit is also done every time you give blood.
Infants and children are often screened for iron deficiency anemia as part of a well child evaluation.
A hematocrit is the percentage of your blood that is red cells. The test fills a tiny glass tube with a drop of blood from your finger and spins it down in a centrifuge so that all the cells settle to the bottom. Normal adult values are 42%-52% in men and 37%-48% in women.
The amount of hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying chemical) in your blood is also tested. Normal adult values for men are 13.8–17.2 grams per deciliter of blood (g/dL) and 12.1–15.1 gm/dL for women.
Complete Blood Count
The complete blood count (CBC) includes the values above plus a count of red cells, white cells, and platelets. The count is automatically done by a machine. These values plus other calculations create the complete blood count or CBC.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for:
The USPSTF does not have recommendations for screening men or postmenopausal women.
For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening at one year. Some children, like those who were born prematurely, may need to be screened more frequently.
Anemia—differential diagnosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 21, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Decreased erythropoiesis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated May 2013. Accessed September 15, 2016.
Iron deficiency anemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
10/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Baker R, Greer F, the Committee on Nutrition American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report—diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0-3 years of age). Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):1040-1050.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 11/3/2017
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