Iron-deficiency anaemia

Baillieres Clin Haematol. 1994 Dec;7(4):787-804. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3536(05)80124-6.


Iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a common clinical problem throughout the world and an enormous public health problem in developing countries. The cornerstone of the laboratory identification of IDA is a low haemoglobin and serum ferritin concentration although a normal serum ferritin does exclude IDA. When the serum ferritin is normal in an anaemic patient with iron-deficient erythropoiesis, it is common practise to perform a bone marrow examination to diagnose IDA. The recent introduction of serum transferrin receptor measurements is a useful alternative for distinguishing IDA from the anaemia of chronic disease because the serum receptor concentration is usually elevated in patients with IDA but normal in patients with anaemia due to inflammation or neoplasia. It is helpful for the clinican to be aware of the causes of physiological IDA. The most important are increased rate of body growth, excessive menstrual blood loss, pregnancy, regular blood donation, intensive endurance training, chronic aspirin use and a vegetarian diet. Without these, a careful search for unsuspected gastrointestinal blood loss must be made and even when the suspicion of physiological IDA is high, it is prudent to screen for fecal occult blood. In most patients, IDA responds promptly to oral iron therapy. Patients who experience troublesome side-effects with oral iron might benefit from a gastric delivery system for oral iron which eliminates nausea and vomiting and improves iron absorption when given with food.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / drug therapy
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / etiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency* / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ferritins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Transferrin / metabolism
  • United States


  • Transferrin
  • Ferritins
  • Iron