Background: Women of childbearing age are especially vulnerable to iron deficiency, the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. The CDC reports about 16% of women of child bearing age are iron deficient in the United States.
Objectives: The purpose was to compare hemoglobin (Hgb) levels of freshmen women with upper-class females and compare the effect of diet and lifestyle on Hgb levels.
Design: This study utilized a cross-sectional research design. The Institutional Review Board of Texas Christian University (TCU) and the Department of Nutritional Sciences approved this study. Participants? hemoglobin levels were measured using the Masimo Pronto and each completed a questionnaire regarding diet and lifestyle factors.
Participants: A convenience sample of 130 women attending TCU were recruited. Inclusion criteria: apparently healthy women enrolled at TCU between the ages of 18-24. Participant recruitment and study intervention took place during Fall 2014.
Main Outcome Measures: Hemoglobin levels of freshmen would be significantly lower (p>0.05) than those of the upperclass women because freshmen are required to have a meal plan which provides access to a wide variety of pre-paid, healthy foods. Freshmen have more recently lived in a home environment where they more likely received daily healthful meals.
Statistical Analyses Performed: SPSS statistics for Windows, Version 23.0 was utilized to analyze data. An independent sample t-test was utilized to analyze significant difference in hemoglobin levels between the two tests. Bivariate correlates compared ordinal data from the food frequency questionnaire and lifestyle survey.
Results: Participants (n=130) were 19.4+/-1.3 years old. Analysis determined there was no significant difference between the Hgb levels of freshmen (13.2+/-1.8 g/dL) and upperclass women (13.4+/-1.7 g/dL), ns. Approximately 15% (n=20) of participants? hemoglobin level was <12 g/dL, considered ?at risk? for iron deficiency. Dietary and lifestyle factors were similar between groups.
Conclusions: At this private university, iron deficiency anemia is not as prevalent as in the general population of young women and in other research studies. Future research, such as comparing hemoglobin levels of collegiate women at private university with those at a public university, may identify a more ?at risk? population.
Funding Source: The Texas Christian University Department of Nutritional Sciences funded the study through the purchase of the Masimo Pronto Hgb measurement device.
Key Words: Hemoglobin, Iron, Iron deficiency anemia, Women of child-bearing age, Masimo Pronto||