Hereditary hemochromatosis in children, adolescents, and young adults

Document Type


Publication Date



Hereditary hemochromatosis is the most common cause of iron overload in adults and is probably the second most common cause of iron overload in children in the United States next to transfusional overload. Serious morbidity from this disorder of iron absorption can occur in early as well as in middle and advanced age, iron overload having been reported in children with hereditary hemochromatosis as early as 2 years of age. Younger persons differ from older persons in that the risk for iron loading in females appears to be equal to the risk for males, in contrast to a preponderance of males among older patients. Also, younger patients frequently demonstrate cardiac and gonadal involvement, with cardiac failure commonly leading to death, whereas older patients are more likely to have liver involvement and diabetes mellitus, with liver failure and hepatoma commonly leading to death. Because early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the toxicities of iron overload, appropriate screening can be lifesaving. Transferrin saturation is the most reliable screening test. Liver biopsy with objective measurement of hepatic iron stores is the most important diagnostic criterion at present, although reliable noninvasive methods for quantitating body iron arc being developed. Young individuals who should be screened for iron overload include patients with cardiac myopathies, hypogonadism, amenorrhea, loss of libido, diabetes mellitus, other endocrine disorders, cirrhosis of the liver, and arthritis, as well as the siblings, parents, and children of patients with hereditary hemochromatosis or iron loading of unknown cause. © 1988 Raven Press, Ltd., New York.

This document is currently not available here.