What is the international prevalence of anemia?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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The prevalence of anemia in Canada and northern Europe is believed to be similar to that in the United States.

A retrospective cohort study of tertiary hospital admissions in Western Australia found that 45,675 of 80,765 inpatients (56.55%) had anemia during their hospital stay. More than one third of patients who were not anemic on admission developed anemia during their stay. Even mild anemia was independently associated with increased mortality and length of stay. [6]

In underprivileged countries, limited studies of purportedly healthy subjects show the prevalence of anemia to be 2-5 times greater than that in the United States. Although geographic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, malaria, hookworm, and chronic infections, are responsible for a portion of the increase, nutritional factors with iron deficiency and, to a lesser extent, folic acid deficiency play major roles in the increased prevalence of anemia. Populations with little meat in the diet have a high incidence of iron deficiency anemia, because heme iron is better absorbed from food than inorganic iron.

Sickle cell disease is common in regions of Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, and the Mediterranean basin. The thalassemias are the most common genetic blood diseases and are found in Southeast Asia and in areas where sickle cell disease is common.

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