Iron deficiency anemia: a common and curable disease

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013 Jul 1;3(7):a011866. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a011866.


Iron deficiency anemia arises when the balance of iron intake, iron stores, and the body's loss of iron are insufficient to fully support production of erythrocytes. Iron deficiency anemia rarely causes death, but the impact on human health is significant. In the developed world, this disease is easily identified and treated, but frequently overlooked by physicians. In contrast, it is a health problem that affects major portions of the population in underdeveloped countries. Overall, the prevention and successful treatment for iron deficiency anemia remains woefully insufficient worldwide, especially among underprivileged women and children. Here, clinical and laboratory features of the disease are discussed, and then focus is placed on relevant economic, environmental, infectious, and genetic factors that converge among global populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Constriction
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Ferritins / physiology
  • Global Health
  • Hemorrhage / complications
  • Hepcidins / physiology
  • Hookworm Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Iron / therapeutic use*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / complications
  • Malaria / complications
  • Male
  • Perinatal Care / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / prevention & control
  • Transferrin / physiology
  • Umbilical Cord


  • Hepcidins
  • Transferrin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron