Iron Status of Deployed Military Members


Name: Candy Wilson

Rank: Maj.

Organization: The Geneva Foundation

Performance Site: Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, TX; Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram, Afghanistan

Year Published: 2010

Abstract Status: Final


The purpose of this study is to determine the iron status of military personnel, specifically the prevalence of iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA), while deployed at moderate altitude. Further analysis will include correlation of serum iron result with survey data about location of home duty station location (for altitude), history of anemia, vegetarian status, blood donation history, and for women, menstrual history.

To date there are no published reports regarding the prevalence of ID or IDA in deployed service members. It is important to determine iron status in deployed service members as the symptoms of ID and IDA are known to cause diminished physical and cognitive performance which may have an impact on the military mission. The prevalence of women with ID in military training environments is between 11-44% and for men in the same environment 3-33%. The high prevalence in training environments could translate to the deployed population, which can impair their ability to fulfill the military mission by decreasing their physical and cognitive performance. 

The researchers will recruit 200 men and 200 women who are deployed to Bagram Airfield Afghanistan for a minimum of three months. Bagram Airfield is situated west of the Hindu Kush mountains and has an moderate altitude elevation of 1,500m. Currently, the researchers have recruited 95 subjects. Craig Joint Theater Hospital furnished all the laboratory supplies, and the complete blood count analysis. However, the iron panel (iron, total iron binding capacity, ferritin, and soluble ferritin transferrin will be shipped to and analyzed at Wilford Hall Medical Center, because the deployed laboratories do not perform iron panel analysis.


Final Report is available on NTRL: