last updated 15-07-2024

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that is characterised by a decreased red blood cell count with microcytic appearance. It is the result of hemoglobin synthesis failure/insufficiency due to insufficient dietary iron intake or absorption. Iron deficiency anemia is characterized by pallor, fatigue and weakness. In severe cases, dyspnea can occur.

Three causes for iron deficiency are distinguished:

  • Increased demand for iron and/or hematopoiesis

    As occurs in rapid growth in infancy or adolescence, pregnancy or EPO therapy.

  • Increased iron loss

    In case of excessive blood loss (acute or chronic), menses, or blood donation.

  • Decreased iron intake or absorption

    From an inadequate diet (rare), malabsorption from disease (sprue, Crohn's disease), acute or chronic inflammation, or parasitic infections (hookworm).

Iron deficiency anemia for infants in their earlier stages of development may affect neurological development by decreasing learning ability, altering motor functions, and permanently reducing the number of dopamine receptors and serotonin levels. Iron deficiency during development can lead to reduced myelination of the spinal cord, as well as a change in myelin composition. Additionally, iron deficiency anemia has a negative effect on physical growth.