Longitudinal changes of endocrine and bone disease in adults with β-thalassemia major receiving different iron chelators over 5 years
OBJECTIVE To define the prevalence, risk factors, and age at diagnosis of endocrinopathies in beta-thalassemia major (BTM) in Northwest Saudi Arabia. METHODS This retrospective cross-sectional study included patients with BTM attending a combined endocrine-hematology clinic in Al-Madinah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from March 2009 to December 2010. Clinical and biochemical data from the initial clinic visits were used to define the prevalence and age of diagnosis of endocrinopathies. Demographic and laboratory variables were analyzed to identify significant risk factors. RESULTS Eighty-one patients (42 males), aged 2-28 years were screened. Thirty-eight of them (46.9%) had at least one endocrinopathy. Of these, 28.9% (11/38) were aged less than 10 years. Hypogonadism was the most common complication detected in 52.7% (19/36) of patients of pubertal age group and 23.4% (19/81), of all cohort followed by short stature in 20.9% (17/81), subclinical hypothyroidism in 14.8% (12/81) and hypoparathyroidism in 11.1% (9/81). Patients with endocrinopathies were older (p=0.001), had longer duration of transfusion (p=0.001), and were started at a late age on chelation than those without endocrinopathies (p=0.07). Recent serum ferritin was poorly correlated to endocrinopathies (p=0.15). CONCLUSION Endocrinopathies are common in our BTM cohort, and patients with this condition benefit from regular endocrine screening within the first 10 years of life. Although endocrinopathies were more prevalent in older patients; further, longitudinal studies are needed to define the exact age of onset and independent risk factors for these complications.