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How to use… iron studies
  1. Martin Hanna1,
  2. Michael Fogarty2,
  3. Clodagh Loughrey3,
  4. Anthony Thompson1,
  5. Christine Macartney1,
  6. Andrew Thompson4,
  7. Ben McNaughten5
  1. 1 Children’s Haematology Unit, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 College of Science, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
  3. 3 Clinical Biochemistry Department, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast, UK
  4. 4 Paediatrics, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, UK
  5. 5 General Paediatric Department, Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martin Hanna, Haematology/Oncology, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast BT12 6BE, UK; mhanna11{at}


Iron studies are frequently requested in paediatric practice. They are useful both as a diagnostic tool and as a way of monitoring certain conditions, particularly those causing iron overload. This article outlines the physiology of iron metabolism and discusses laboratory aspects of performing iron studies, including factors influencing interpretation. Clinical scenarios are used to highlight how the tests can be used in different clinical situations.

  • iron
  • ferritin
  • anaemia
  • iron deficiency
  • iron overload

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  • Contributors MH, BM, MF and CL wrote the first draft. This was reviewed by the other authors. All authors agreed on the final manuscript prior to submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.