The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
A hematocrit or a hemoglobin test can detect anemia. These tests are part of a complete blood count, which is often done when you go to the doctor for an annual physical exam, or as part of your prenatal exams. A hematocrit is done every time you give blood. Infants and children are often screened for iron deficiency anemia as part of a well child evaluation.
The percentage of your blood that is red cells. This is easily done by filling a tiny glass tube with a drop of blood from your finger and spinning it down in a centrifuge so that all the cells settle to the bottom. Normal adult values are 42%-52% in men and 37%-48% in women.
The amount of hemoglobin (oxygen-carrying chemical) in your blood. Normal adult values for men are 13.8–17.2 grams per deciliter of blood (g/dL) and 12.1–15.1 gm/dL for women.
The above values plus a count of red cells, white cells, and platelets can be done automatically by a machine. These values plus calculations derived from them constitute the CBC, which is a routine blood test.
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for:
- Non-pregnant women at 5-10 year intervals (more often for those at risk of iron-deficiency because of heavy menstrual blood loss or poor iron intake)
- Pregnant women at the first prenatal visit
The USPSTF does not have recommendations for screening men or post-menopausal women.
For children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening at one year. Some children, like those who were born
premature, may need to be screened more frequently.
DynaMed Editorial Team. Iron deficiency anemia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated September 16, 2010. Accessed October 12, 2010.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. McGraw-Hill; 2004.
Recommendations to prevent and control iron deficiency in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
US Preventive Services Task Force. US Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at:
http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstfix.htm. Accessed February 2007.
10/12/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Baker R, Greer F, the Committee on Nutrition. Clinical report—diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0-3 years of age). American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/peds.2010-2576v1. Published October 5, 2010. Accessed October 12, 2010.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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