How does the prevalence of anemia vary among age groups?

Updated: Nov 26, 2019
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Previously, severe, genetically acquired anemias (eg, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, Fanconi syndrome) were more commonly found in children because they did not survive to adulthood. However, with improvement in medical care and breakthroughs in transfusion and iron chelation therapy, in addition to fetal hemoglobin modifiers, the life expectancy of persons with these diseases has been significantly prolonged. [11]

Acute anemia has a bimodal frequency distribution, affecting mostly young adults and persons in their late fifties. Causes among young adults include trauma, menstrual and ectopic bleeding, and problems of acute hemolysis. During their childbearing years, women are more likely to become iron deficient.

In people aged 50-65 years, acute anemia is usually the result of acute blood loss in addition to a chronic anemic state. This is the case in uterine and GI bleeding.

Neoplasia increases in prevalence with each decade of life and can produce anemia from bleeding, from the invasion of bone marrow with tumor, or from the development of anemia associated with chronic disorders. The use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and warfarin also increases with age and can produce GI bleeding.

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