Half of the emirati population has abnormal red cell parameters: Challenges for standards and screening guidelines

Bayan Al-Dabbagh, Saad Shawqi, Javed Yasin, Awad Al Essa, Nico Nagelkerke, Srdjan Denic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In populations with high prevalences of iron deficiency and thalassemia trait, many apparently healthy individuals have abnormal erythroid parameters, which may cause diagnostic problems in clinical practice. We studied the prevalence and causes of red cell parameter values outside their reference ranges in 394 healthy individuals of Bedouin Arab origin, who had complete blood counts (CBCs), hemoglobin (Hb) analyses and serum ferritin tests done. Their mean age,±,standard deviation (SD) was 24.8± 4.9 years and 51.8% were females. Overall, 53.0% (209/394) had low Hb, MCV or MCH or high RDW. Anemia was present in 27.0% (55/204) of the women and 3.0% (6/190) of the men. Overall prevalence of MCV <80.0 fL was 45.0% (176/394) and MCH <27.0 pg was 48.0% (190/394); RDW >14.0% was found in 21.0% (43/204) of women and 7.0% (14/190) of men. Of the women, 16.0% had iron deficiency anemia (33/204) and 65.0% had ferritin values of <30.0 mu;g/L (133/204). The estimated prevalence of α-thalassemia (α-thal) trait in men was 32.0% (60/190) and that of β-thalassemia (β-thal) trait in both sexes was 3.0% (12/394). In conclusion, half of the healthy Emirati population have abnormal CBC values. For clinical purposes, they require reference standards for red cells that are derived from their own population. Screening of women for iron deficiency is justified due to a high prevalence of iron deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-59
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Hemoglobinopathies
  • Public health
  • Red cell parameters
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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