How does the prevalence of anemia vary between males and females?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Overall, anemia is twice as prevalent in females as in males. This difference is significantly greater during the childbearing years due to pregnancies and menses.

Approximately 65% of body iron is incorporated into circulating Hb. One gram of Hb contains 3.46 mg of iron (1 mL of blood with an Hb concentration of 15 g/dL = 0.5 mg of iron). Each healthy pregnancy depletes the mother of approximately 500 mg of iron. While a man must absorb about 1 mg of iron to maintain equilibrium, a premenopausal woman must absorb an average of 2 mg daily. Further, because women eat less food than men, they must be more than twice as efficient as men in the absorption of iron to avoid iron deficiency.

Women have a markedly lower incidence of X-linked anemias, such as G-6-PD deficiency and sex-linked sideroblastic anemias, than men do. In addition, in the younger age groups, males have a higher incidence of acute anemia from traumatic causes.

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