The laboratory diagnosis of iron deficiency is difficult because iron homeostasis is dynamic. No single test can provide an accurate assessment of iron absorption, transport, storage, and utilisation. The different assays available to assess iron and its stores will each be discussed, and recommendations made pertinent to practice within the UK. Iron metabolism in adults and children can be considered equivalent and these recommendations are applicable to both paediatric and adult practice.

This good practice paper should benefit all healthcare professionals investigating paediatric and non-pregnant adult patients with suspected iron deficiency. It supplements existing BSH guidelines for the specific situations of diagnosing functional iron deficiency and the diagnosis and management of iron deficiency in pregnancy.34

Declaration of Interests

The BSH paid the expenses incurred during the writing of this guidance. None of the authors had conflicts of interest to declare. All authors have made a declaration of interests to the BSH and Task Force Chairs which may be viewed on request.