Hemoglobin (cont.)

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What are normal hemoglobin values?

The hemoglobin level is expressed as the amount of hemoglobin in grams (gm) per deciliter (dL) of whole blood, a deciliter being 100 milliliters.

The normal ranges for hemoglobin depend on the age and, beginning in adolescence, the gender of the person. The normal ranges are:

  • Newborns: 17 to 22 gm/dL
  • One (1) week of age: 15 to 20 gm/dL
  • One (1) month of age: 11 to 15gm/dL
  • Children: 11 to 13 gm/dL
  • Adult males: 14 to 18 gm/dL
  • Adult women: 12 to 16 gm/dL
  • Men after middle age: 12.4 to 14.9 gm/dL
  • Women after middle age: 11.7 to 13.8 gm/dL

All of these values may vary slightly between laboratories. Some laboratories do not differentiate between adult and "after middle age" hemoglobin values. Pregnant females are advised to avoid both high and low hemoglobin levels to avoid increasing risks of stillbirths (high hemoglobin) and premature birth or low-birth-weight baby (low hemoglobin).

What does a low hemoglobin level mean?

A low hemoglobin level is referred to as anemia or low red blood count. Lower than normal number of red blood cells is referred to as anemia and hemoglobin level reflects this number. There are many reasons (causes) for anemia.

Some of the more common causes of anemia are:

  • loss of blood (traumatic injury, surgery, bleeding, colon cancer or stomach ulcer),
  • nutritional deficiency (iron, vitamin B12, folate),
  • bone marrow problems (replacement of bone marrow by cancer),
  • suppression by red blood cell synthesis by chemotherapy drugs,
  • kidney failure, and
  • abnormal hemoglobin structure (sickle cell anemia or thalassemia).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/11/2014

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