Iron deficiency anaemia

Individuals with iron deficiency anaemia are anaemic (based on low haemoglobin) and iron deficient (based on one of the recommended indicators of iron status). Fig. 3.1. shows two examples of the relationship between iron deficiency, iron deficiency anaemia and anaemia in populations with the same prevalence of anaemia. The level of overlap between these three conditions will vary between populations, and within a given population. In setting A, the prevalence of iron deficiency in the population is high, as is the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia, while non-iron deficiency causes of anaemia are infrequent. In setting B, the prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are lower than in setting A, indicating that other factors, such as malaria, hookworm, and/or genetic blood disorders (for example, haemoglobinopathies) may be the main causes of anaemia.

Fig. 3.1. Visual representation of the overlap between iron deficiency, iron deficiency anaemia and anaemia

file Adapted from: reference 1.

  1. WHO, UNICEF, UNU. Iron deficiency anaemia: assessment, prevention and control, a guide for programme managers. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2001.