4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/09/2014  First Issue
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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 anaemia.1


Ferritin results were obtained for persons aged 18 years and over, who participated in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) and who 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.1,2 Therefore people with inflammation (defined in the NATSIHMS as a C-reactive protein level of >10 mg/L) were excluded from published ferritin results. However, all ferritin results without this exclusion are available.

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 NATSIHMS.

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 NATSIHMS is the first ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey to collect biomedical information. Given it was also the first national level survey (ABS or otherwise) to collect such data for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, no comparisons with previous surveys for this population are possible.

However, biomedical data was also collected for all Australians in the 2011-12 National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and information about comparisons between the NHMS results and those of non-ABS surveys is available from the Comparisons with other Australian surveys section of the Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 publication.


1 Gibson RS 2005, Principles of Nutritional Assessment, 2nd ed, New York: Oxford University Press.
2 Thurnham DI, McCabe GP 2012, 'Influence of infection and inflammation on biomarkers of nutritional status with an emphasis on vitamin A and iron'. In: World Health Organization. Report: Priorities in the assessment of vitamin A and iron status in populations, Panama City, Panama, 15–17 September 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, <http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/background_paper4_report_assessment_vitAandIron_status.pdf>, Last accessed 08/09/2014.

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