August 28, 2018

Achsah Dorsey (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

An exploration of iron deficiency and morbidity in Peru

While iron is essential for many biological processes in living organisms, iron deficiency is common worldwide. Explanations and solutions for the high rates of iron deficiency remain elusive. The relationship between iron levels and health is not simple; too much iron and too little iron cause negative health outcomes with lasting effects but there is little consensus on what constitutes as too high or too low. An evolutionary perspective may help address this problem. The Optimal Iron Hypothesis states that an individual’s best iron status is related to the environment that they live in. When individuals live in environments with high rates of disease, lower levels of iron will protect them from infection while higher levels of iron will be beneficial to individuals living in an environment with low rates of disease. This project will investigate iron deficiency and its relationship to health in families, specifically grandmothers, mothers, and children in Lima, Peru, an area that suffers from severe rates of iron deficiency.