In healthy subjects, the serum ferritin concentration correlates with iron stores, as assessed by quantitative phlebotomy or tissue biopsy. This has led to the widespread use of immunoassays for serum ferritin as a convenient, non-invasive measure of iron stores. Normal concentrations of serum ferritin range from about 15 to 300 |ig/L, and are higher in men (median about 90 |g/L) than in premenopausal women (median 30 |g/L). In women, after the menopause, serum ferritin concentrations increase but remain below levels in men. In neonates, the concentration in cord blood (median approximately 100 |g/L) rises further over the first 2 months of life as fetal haemoglobin is broken down, and thereafter falls to low levels (median 20-30 |g/L) throughout childhood and adolescence.
Values for serum ferritin concentration below 15 |g/L are virtually specific for storage iron depletion, but normal values do not exclude this and values above 300 | g/L do not necessarily, or even usually, indicate iron overload. This is because ferritin synthesis is influenced by factors other than iron (in
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