Background: The prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) rises with age. Migrants are potentially at higher risk for IDA because of differences in intake and uptake as well as their higher comorbid status. We assessed whether geriatric Turkish and Moroccan migrants have a higher prevalence of low iron status and IDA.
Methods: Retrospective case-control study in a geriatric outpatient clinic (2012-2015). In total, 188 consecutive Turkish and Moroccan migrants aged ≥ 65 years were included and matched with 188 Dutch controls. Matching
was based on the visiting date of the patients. Main outcome measures were serum ferritin level (below 15 µg/l) and IDA. IDA was defined as anaemia according to the WHO definition, with a serum ferritin level below 15 µg/l and serum CRP below 10 mg/l. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to correct for confounders.
Results: Mean serum ferritin level was significantly lower in migrants (83.46 µg/l, SD 106.8 vs. 164.94 µg/l, SD 160.1, (p < 0.05)). In total, 7.4% met the IDA criteria, of these 5.6% were migrants and 1.8% were Dutch (p < 0.05). After correction for age, gender, BMI, and use of NSAIDs, a low ferritin level was associated with migrant status (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.0-8.9) as was IDA (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.2-7.2).
Conclusion: Prevalence of low serum ferritin and IDA is increased in the first-generation Turkish and Moroccan geriatric migrant population. This might be caused by differences in iron intake or uptake from nutrition between
the populations or because of gastrointestinal pathology; further study is warranted.