Prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia trait among undergraduate medical students

R. Z. Azma*, O. Ainoon, I. Azlin, H. Hamenuddin, N. A. Hadi, W. K. Tatt, I. N. Syazana, A. M. Asmaliza, S. Das, N. H. Hamidah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Anaemia is a global health problem including Malaysia. In adults, anaemia may affect work productivity. Iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia are common causes of anaemia in Malaysia. However, there is scarcity of data on national prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia, especially in young adults. This cross sectional study was performed to determine the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia among medical students of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC). Materials and Methods. Blood samples collected in EDTA tubes were analyzed for haemoglobin level and red cell parameters such as MCV, MCH and red cell counts. Samples with abnormal red cell indices were sent for analysis of RBC morphology, iron status, haemoglobin analysis and DNA analysis. Results. A total of 400 samples were available for this study. Fiftyeight (14.5%) students had hypochromic microcytic red cell indices in which 44 (11%) showed thalassaemia red cell indices while 14 (3.5%) had iron deficiency red cell indices which were finally confirmed by serum iron/TIBC analysis. Amongst those suspected to have thalassaemia, 12 (27.3%) were confirmed as alpha thalassaemia trait (αα/--SEA), 11 (25%) as Haemoglobin-E trait, 8 (18.2%) as beta thalassaemia trait and 2 (4.5%) as Haemoglobin Constant Spring (αα/αCSα). However, eleven students (25%) with thalassaemia red cell indices could not be confirmed with the common thalassaemia primers available, thus causes have yet to be established. Conclusion. Our prevalence of thalassaemia was high and thus we opine that better screening methods should be adopted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-291
Number of pages5
JournalClinica Terapeutica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Anaemia
  • Iron deficiency
  • Medical
  • Students
  • Thalassaemia
  • Trait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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