"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study: Young women and girls have a high risk of iron deficiency

June 28, 2023 – Nearly 40% of women and young women within the United States could also be iron deficient, which may result in fatigue and increase the danger of many health problems, a latest study finds.

The researchers also found that 6 out of 100 girls and young women had extremely low iron levels, a condition called iron deficiency anemia, which impairs the blood's ability to hold oxygen throughout the body.

The findings suggest that current guidelines for testing iron levels in women and girls could also be flawed, leading to missed opportunities for a straightforward blood test to diagnose this easily treatable condition. Iron supplements are sometimes prescribed for treatment.

The study was published on Tuesday in Journal of the American Medical Association and included 12 years of knowledge from a complete of just about 3,500 women and girls aged 12 to 21.

In addition to shortness of breath and fatigue, other symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Pale skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Unusual cravings for non-food items corresponding to ice, dirt, or paper

The Cleveland Clinic According to the researcher, essentially the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia are blood loss, including heavy menstrual bleeding. The body gets iron from food, and inadequate intake of iron from food, for instance through a vegan or vegetarian weight loss plan, may result in a deficiency.

In this recent study, researchers found that the chances of developing iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia amongst young women and girls were significantly related to race and ethnicity, poverty status, access to adequate or quality food (also referred to as food insecurity), and body mass index. Black and Hispanic women and girls were more prone to have iron problems than white women and girls. Black women and girls were 4 times more prone to have iron deficiency anemia than white women and girls.

The authors didn’t address possible causes and suggested that further studies are needed to discover risk aspects for iron deficiency in girls and young women.