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Keywords:

  • anaemia;
  • Australia;
  • autistic disorder;
  • child;
  • iron deficiency;
  • pervasive developmental disorder

Aim

To investigate the prevalence of and risk factors for iron deficiency in children with global developmental delay and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method

A retrospective review was conducted of the files of children referred to community paediatric clinics in South West Sydney from May 2009 to July 2011 who were diagnosed with global developmental delay and/or ASD. Data were extracted on iron studies and potential risk factors. Data were analysed using Pearson's ÷2-test and Fisher's exact test.

Results

Subjects included 122 children. The prevalence of iron depletion was 2.5% (95% CI 0.5–7.0%); that of iron deficiency was 6.6% (95% CI 2.9–12.5%), and that of iron deficiency anaemia was 4.1% (95% CI 1.3–9.3%). In children with global developmental delay without ASD, the prevalence of iron depletion was 1.8% (95% CI 0–9.7%), that of iron deficiency 5.5% (95% CI 1.1–15.1%) and that of iron deficiency anaemia 5.5% (95% CI 1.1–15.1%). In children with ASD with or without global developmental delay, the prevalence of iron depletion was 3.0% (95% CI 0.4–10.4%), that of iron deficiency 7.5% (95% CI 2.5–16.6%) and that of iron deficiency anaemia 3.0% (95% CI 0.4–10.4%). Univariate analysis demonstrated three significant potential risk factors for iron depletion, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia: problems sucking, swallowing or chewing (P = 0.002); poor eating behaviour (P = 0.008); and inadequate amounts of meat, chicken, eggs or fish (P = 0.002).

Conclusion

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia were more common in this clinical sample of children with global developmental delay and/or ASD than in the general population.