Prevalence and Management of Anemia in Children, Adolescents, and Adults With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2012 Mar;18(3):513-9. doi: 10.1002/ibd.21740. Epub 2011 May 20.


Background: Children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are more likely to have Crohn's disease (CD) than ulcerative colitis (UC) and their disease tends to be more extensive and severe than in adults. We hypothesized that the prevalence of anemia would therefore be greater in children and adolescents than in adults attending IBD outpatient clinics.

Methods: Using the WHO age-adjusted definitions of anemia we assessed the prevalence, severity, type, and response to treatment of anemia in patients attending pediatric, adolescent, and adult IBD clinics at our hospital.

Results: The prevalence of anemia was 70% (41/59) in children, 42% (24/54) in adolescents, and 40% (49/124) in adults (P < 0.01). Overall, children (88% [36/41]) and adolescents (83% [20/24]) were more often iron-deficient than adults (55% [27/49]) (P < 0.01). Multivariate logistic regression showed that both active disease (odds ratio [OR], 4.7 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.5, 8.8) and attending the pediatric clinic (OR 3.7; 95% CI, 1.6, 8.4) but not the adolescent clinic predicted iron deficiency anemia. Fewer iron-deficient children (13% [5/36]) than adolescents (30% [6/20]) or adults (48% [13/27]) had been given oral iron (P < 0.05); none had received intravenous iron compared with 30% (6/20) adolescents and 41% (11/27) adults (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Anemia is even more common in children than in older IBD patients. Oral iron was given to half of adolescents and adults but, despite similar tolerance and efficacy, only a quarter of children with iron-deficient anemia. Reasons for the apparent underutilization of iron therapy include a perceived lack of benefit and concerns about side effects, including worsening of IBD activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / therapeutic use*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Iron