Background: Reference intervals are used as an aid in the interpretation of laboratory results. Most developing countries do not have reference intervals specific to adolescents. This study was aimed at establishing hematological and biochemical reference intervals for adolescents aged ≥ 12 years to < 18 years.
Methods: A community based, cross sectional study was conducted using the multistage sampling technique. Participants were enrolled from the UZ-UCSF research study catchment areas of Harare, Chitungwiza, and Mutoko. Samples were transported for analysis at the UZ-UCSF Central Laboratory under recommended conditions. The data analysis presented in this paper is for 302 adolescents aged ≥ 12 to < 18. Non-parametric statistical methods were used to estimate the 95% reference limits for the hematological and biochemical parameters, with the lower limit defined as the 2.5 percentile and the upper limit defined as the 97.5 percentile of the distribution.
Results: A total of 302 adolescents were included. Results show significant differences between males and females in hematological parameters except platelets, eosinophils, basophils, and red cell distribution width. The biochemical parameters which showed significant differences between males and females were phosphate, ALP, ALT, AST, GGT, and lipase.
Conclusions: Hematological indices and liver function tests differ significantly by gender and this should be considered when defining normal intervals.