4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
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Ferritin is a measure of iron stores in the body. The ferritin test measures the amount of ferritin circulating in the blood at the time of the test. A low ferritin value reflects depleted iron stores, which can lead to anemia.


Ferritin results were obtained for persons aged 12 years and over, who participated in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and provided a blood sample. Fasting was not required for this test.


A blood sample was collected from participants and ferritin levels were measured at the Douglass Hanly Moir (DHM) laboratory.

Levels of ferritin can be affected by infection or inflammation.1 Therefore people with inflammation (defined in the NHMS as a C-reactive protein level of >10 mg/L) were excluded from ferritin results in the biomedical nutrient results publication. All ferritin results without this exclusion are available in TableBuilder microdata products.

There is no consensus on the epidemiological cut off reference values for measuring serum ferritin in the blood. As such, no cut off points have been defined in the NHMS.

Further information about the analysis method and machines used to measure ferritin levels is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of this product.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:

  • Low ferritin results do not confirm a specific diagnosis without consultation with a health professional.
  • Persons with C-reactive protein levels > 10mg/L were excluded from ferritin results in the biomedical nutrient results publication.
  • There are a number of different test methods to measure ferritin levels and each test method may produce different results. The data from this topic should therefore be used with caution when comparing ferritin results from other studies using a different test method.

Comparability with other surveys

The NHMS is the first ABS survey to collect biomedical data on ferritin levels.

Ferritin data has been collected in other non-ABS surveys. However, caution must be taken when interpreting results due to the differences in scope, assay and the instrument used, and any thresholds applied in the final analysis.


1 Gibson RS 2005, Principles of Nutritional Assessment, 2nd ed, New York: Oxford University Press.

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