Prevalence of Iron Deficiency and Iron Deficiency Anemia

Although iron deficiency anemia is considered the most prevalent nutritional deficiency globally, accurate prevalence estimates are difficult to obtain. Worldwide, prevalence estimates for iron deficiency anemia have ranged from 500 million to approximately 2 billion people affected. However, most global prevalence estimates are based on anemia surveys, which will overestimate the amount of anemia attributable to iron deficiency but underestimate the prevalence of less severe iron deficiency. There is clearly a disparity in anemia prevalence between the developing and developed world, with ^50% of children and nonpregnant women in the developing world considered anemic compared with ~10% in the developed world. The prevalence of anemia increases during pregnancy, with ^20% of US women anemic during pregnancy and estimates of anemia prevalence in some developing countries exceeding 60%.

Data from the US NHANES III (1988-1994) survey, which used a variety of indicators of iron status, showed that 9% of US toddlers were iron deficient and 3% had iron deficiency anemia. Eleven percent of adolescent females and women of reproductive age were iron deficient, and 3-5% of these women had iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency in the developed world is more common among low-income minorities.

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