[Iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies related to anemia in adolescents from a region with a high incidence of congenital malformations in Venezuela]

Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2005 Jun;55(2):118-23.
[Article in Spanish]


Since in recent years for certain age groups, the main cause of anemia is not iron deficiency, we intended to study the effect of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies on anemia prevalence in adolescents from Venezuela. One hundred adolescents aged between 12 and 19 years participated in the study. Each subject was interviewed about antecedents and habits and a physical examination and a 24-hour food recall questionnaire were performed. From a blood sample, hemoglobin and hematocrit concentrations were determined and serum was separated for quantification of ferritin, folic acid and vitamin B12 concentrations. Prevalence of anemia was 78% and for iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies were 34.66, 90.9 and 18.18%, respectively. From anemic cases, 35.89% presented iron deficiency, while 91.02% presented folic acid deficiency. Only 19.23% of adolescents with anemia presented also vitamin B12 deficiency, but all the cases with vitamin B12 deficiency, were anemic. Simultaneous iron and folic acid deficiencies affected 30.76% of anemic cases. The high prevalence of deficiencies found in this work could be explained by insufficient intake and inadequate food habits. The prevalence of anemia was associated to folic acid deficiency rather than to iron deficiency, due to the high prevalence of folic acid deficiency. The high prevalence of nutritional deficiencies found in this work, especially regarding folic acid deficiency, require immediate interventions.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / complications
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Folic Acid Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Venezuela / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Ferritins