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Low vitamin B12 levels among newly-arrived refugees from Bhutan, Iran and Afghanistan: a multicentre Australian study

Benson, Jill; Phillips, Christine; Kay, Margaret; Webber, Murray T.; Ratcliff, Alison J.; Correa-Velez, Ignacio; Lorimer, Michelle F.

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BACKGROUND Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in many countries of origin of refugees. Using a threshold of 5% above which a prevalence of low Vitamin B12 is indicative of a population health problem, we hypothesised that Vitamin B12 deficiency exceeds this threshold among newly-arrived refugees resettling in Australia, and is higher among women due to their increased risk of food insecurity. This paper reports Vitamin B12 levels in a large cohort of newly arrived refugees in five Australian...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorBenson, Jill
dc.contributor.authorPhillips, Christine
dc.contributor.authorKay, Margaret
dc.contributor.authorWebber, Murray T.
dc.contributor.authorRatcliff, Alison J.
dc.contributor.authorCorrea-Velez, Ignacio
dc.contributor.authorLorimer, Michelle F.
dc.date.accessioned2015-10-28T00:11:45Z
dc.date.available2015-10-28T00:11:45Z
dc.identifier.issn1932-6203
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/16135
dc.description.abstractBACKGROUND Vitamin B12 deficiency is prevalent in many countries of origin of refugees. Using a threshold of 5% above which a prevalence of low Vitamin B12 is indicative of a population health problem, we hypothesised that Vitamin B12 deficiency exceeds this threshold among newly-arrived refugees resettling in Australia, and is higher among women due to their increased risk of food insecurity. This paper reports Vitamin B12 levels in a large cohort of newly arrived refugees in five Australian states and territories. METHODS In a cross-sectional descriptive study, we collected Vitamin B12, folate and haematological indices on all refugees (n = 916; response rate 94% of eligible population) who had been in Australia for less than one year, and attended one of the collaborating health services between July 2010 and July 2011. RESULTS 16.5% of participants had Vitamin B12 deficiency (<150 pmol/L). One-third of participants from Iran and Bhutan, and one-quarter of participants from Afghanistan had Vitamin B12 deficiency. Contrary to our hypothesis, low Vitamin B12 levels were more prevalent in males than females. A higher prevalence of low Vitamin B12 was also reported in older age groups in some countries. The sensitivity of macrocytosis in detecting Vitamin B12 deficiency was only 4.6%. CONCLUSION Vitamin B12 deficiency is an important population health issue in newly-arrived refugees from many countries. All newly-arrived refugees should be tested for Vitamin B12 deficiency. Ongoing research should investigate causes, treatment, and ways to mitigate food insecurity, and the contribution of such measures to enhancing the health of the refugee communities.
dc.description.sponsorshipThis research was funded in part through a PHCRED scholarship at the University of Adelaide.
dc.format6 pages
dc.publisherPublic Library of Science
dc.rights© 2013 Benson et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
dc.sourcePLoS ONE
dc.subjectadolescent
dc.subjectadult
dc.subjectafghanistan
dc.subjectanemia
dc.subjectaustralia
dc.subjectbhutan
dc.subjectchild
dc.subjectchild, preschool
dc.subjecterythrocyte count
dc.subjectfemale
dc.subjecthumans
dc.subjectinfant
dc.subjectinfant, newborn
dc.subjectiran
dc.subjectmale
dc.subjectmiddle aged
dc.subjectrefugees
dc.subjectvitamin b 12
dc.subjectvitamin b 12 deficiency
dc.subjectyoung adult
dc.titleLow vitamin B12 levels among newly-arrived refugees from Bhutan, Iran and Afghanistan: a multicentre Australian study
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume8
dcterms.dateAccepted2013-01-30
dc.date.issued2013-02-28
local.identifier.absfor111717
local.identifier.ariespublicationu3841020xPUB41
local.publisher.urlhttps://www.plos.org/
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationBenson, Jill, University of Adelaide, Australia
local.contributor.affiliationPhillips, Christine, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, CMBE ANU Medical School, ANU Medical School, The Australian National University
local.contributor.affiliationKay, Margaret, University of Queensland, Australia
local.contributor.affiliationWebber, Murray, Hunter New England Health Refugee Health Program , Australia
local.contributor.affiliationRatcliff, Alison, Royal Hobart Hospital, Australia
local.contributor.affiliationCorrea-Velez, Ignacio, School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
local.contributor.affiliationLorrimer, Michelle, University of Adelaide, Australia
local.identifier.essn1932-6203
local.bibliographicCitation.issue2
local.bibliographicCitation.startpagee57998
local.identifier.doi10.1371/journal.pone.0057998
local.identifier.absseo920503
local.identifier.absseo920411
dc.date.updated2015-12-08T03:33:50Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-84874558794
local.identifier.thomsonID000315524900219
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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