Int J Sports Med 1998; 19(7): 474-478
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-971947
Physiology and Biochemistry

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

The Haematological Response to an Iron Injection Amongst Female Athletes

M. J. Ashenden1 , P. A. Fricker2 , R. K. Ryan1 , N. K. Morrison1 , G. P. Dobson3 , A. G. Hahn1
  • 1Department of Physiology and Applied Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  • 2Department of Sports Medicine, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  • 3Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, James Cook University of Nth Qld., Townsville, Australia
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 March 2007 (online)

The aim of this study was to monitor the haematological response of female athletes with moderately low ferritin values to an iron injection. We measured the total haemoglobin mass of 11 female basketballers with a range of ferritin values who lived and trained together for the duration of the study (age 18 ± 1, range 16 - 19 yrs), [Hb] 12.4 ± 1.3, 11.5 - 16.1 g · dl; ferritin 35.6 ± 15.6, 9 - 58 μg · L). A total dose of 2.5 mL Ferrum H was administered to six squad members who were matched with the remaining five controls based on ferritin measures obtained three weeks earlier. Venous blood samples were drawn weekly to obtain full blood counts, reticulocyte parameters as well as iron profiles. There was no change detected in any of the haematological parameters measured in the treatment group compared to controls. A repeated measures ANOVA (treatment × time) demonstrated that neither total haemoglobin mass (P = 0.91) nor [Hb] (P = 0.79) altered significantly between groups, whilst the mean haemoglobin content of reticulocytes also showed no response (P = 0.17). Because a positive haematological response is definitive evidence of impaired red cell production, our results indicate that none of the athletes were iron deficient at the time of the injection. This suggests that low ferritin values in trained female athletes are not always associated with impaired red cell production.