Policies on Screening Female Athletes for Iron Deficiency in NCAA Division I-A Institutions

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in the United States. This condition has been reported to affect 60% of female athletes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize screening for anemia in women of childbearing age. The purpose of this study was to determine the number of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-A schools that implement screening for iron deficiency in female athletes as well as the screening policies for those who do. A link to an online survey was sent to 94 NCAA Division I-A schools to determine current practices concerning screening and treating female athletes for iron deficiency. There was a 58% response rate. Frequencies for each response were computed. Forty-three percent of responding institutions report screening female athletes for iron deficiency. This study suggests that screening for iron deficiency in female athletes at NCAA Division I-A schools is not a routine procedure and, for those who do screen, variability exists in the criteria for diagnosis, as well as in treatment protocols. Standard protocols for assessment and treatment of iron deficiency in female athletes need to be developed and implemented.

B.S. Cowell is with the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425. C.A. Rosenbloom is with the Department of Nutrition at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303. R. Skinner is with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332. S.H. Summers is with the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University.