K J Schulze and M L Dreyfuss Johns Hopkins

Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD,

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Anemia is defined by abnormally low circulating hemoglobin concentrations. A variety of etiologies exist for anemia, including dietary deficiencies of folate or vitamin B12 (pernicious or macrocytic anemia), infections and inflammatory states (anemia of chronic disease), and conditions that result in insufficient production of red blood cells (aplastic anemia) or excessive destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia). However, worldwide, the most prevalent form of anemia is that of iron deficiency, which causes anemia characterized by hypochromic and normo- or microcytic red blood cells. Iron deficiency anemia remains a health problem in both the developed and the developing world. This article discusses the metabolism of iron; the assessment of iron deficiency; iron requirements across the life span; and the consequences, prevention, and treatment of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia.

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