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OBJECTIVES: Many children leave the PICU with anemia. The mechanisms of post-PICU anemia are poorly investigated, and treatment of anemia, other than blood, is rarely started during PICU. We aimed to characterize the contributions of iron depletion (ID) and/or inflammation in the development of post-PICU anemia and to explore the utility of hepcidin (a novel iron marker) at detecting ID during inflammation. DESIGN: Post hoc analysis of a single-center prospective study (November 2019 to September 2022). SETTING: PICU, quaternary center, Canada. PATIENTS: Children admitted to PICU with greater than or equal to 48 hours of invasive or greater than or equal to 96 hours of noninvasive ventilation. We excluded patients with preexisting conditions causing anemia or those admitted after cardiac surgery. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Hematological and iron profiles were performed at PICU discharge on 56 participants of which 37 (37/56) were diagnosed with anemia. Thirty-three children (33/56; 59%) were younger than 2 years. Median Pediatric Logistic Organ Dysfunction score was 11 (interquartile range, 6-16). Twenty-four of the 37 anemic patients had repeat bloodwork 2 months post-PICU. Of those, four (4/24; 16%) remained anemic. Hematologic profiles were categorized as: anemia of inflammation (AI), iron deficiency anemia (IDA), IDA with inflammation, and ID (low iron stores without anemia). Seven (7/47; 15%) had AI at discharge, and one had persistent AI post-PICU. Three patients (3/47; 6%) had IDA at discharge; of which one was lost to follow-up and the other two were no longer anemic but had ID post-PICU. Eleven additional patients developed ID post-PICU. In the exploratory analysis, we identified a diagnostic cutoff value for ID during inflammation from the receiver operating characteristic curve for hepcidin of 31.9 pg/mL. This cutoff would increase the detection of ID at discharge from 6% to 34%. CONCLUSIONS: The burden of ID in children post-PICU is high and better management strategies are required. Hepcidin may increase the diagnostic yield of ID in patients with inflammation.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatr Crit Care Med

Publication Date





344 - 353


Humans, Child, Hepcidins, Prospective Studies, Critical Illness, Anemia, Iron Deficiencies, Iron, Anemia, Iron-Deficiency, Inflammation