Population based haematology reference ranges for old people in rural South-West Uganda

Joseph O. Mugisha, Janet Seeley, Hannah Kuper

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Background: Haematology reference values are needed to interpret haematology results and make clinical decisions, but these have not been established for old people in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of this study was to establish haematology reference values for people aged 50 years and above in Uganda, to compare the haematology reference values for those aged 65 years and over with those less than 65 years and to compare these haematology reference values with established haematology reference values for old people from high income countries. 

Methods: A total of 1449 people aged 50 years and above were recruited from the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute general population cohort between January 2012 and January 2013 (response rate 72.3 %). From the blood samples collected, we did haematology, HIV testing and malaria tests. We also obtained stool samples and tested them for hookworm infection. Questionnaire data were obtained through interviews. In the analysis, we excluded those with HIV infection, malaria infection, hookworm infection and those not feeling well at the time of recruitment. Medians and reference ranges for 12 haematology parameters were determined, based on the Clinical Laboratory and Standards institute's guidelines. 

Results: In total, 903 people aged 50 years and above were included in the analysis with the majority 545 (60.3 %) being female. Men had significant difference in median haemoglobin, haematocrit, erythrocytes counts and white blood cells counts, which were higher than those of women. Women had significant difference in mean platelet counts and neutrophil percentages which were higher than those of men. Comparing those aged 65+ and those aged less than 65 years, the following parameters were significantly lower in those aged above 65 years: haemoglobin, haematocrit, erythrocytes counts, platelets and mean corpuscular volume. Compared to the reference intervals from old people in high income countries, all the haematology parameters from our study population were low. 

Conclusion: The differences between haematology reference ranges in old people compared to adults and the very old (65+) compared to those between 50 and 65 call for more population based studies using nationwide surveys to be carried out among old people in other study settings in Uganda and the rest of Africa to explore the differences in haematology reference ranges between these different age groups with a view of establishing whether there is need to have separate reference range for these different categories of old people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number433
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2016


  • Africa
  • Haematology reference ranges
  • Old people
  • Uganda

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