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Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or the hemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal1. Hemoglobin is needed to carry oxygen and if you have too few or abnormal red blood cells or not enough hemoglobin, there will be a decreased capacity of the blood to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Anemia is a serious global public health problem that particularly affects young children and pregnant women. WHO estimates that 42% of children less than 5 years of age and 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anemic.

The prevalence of anemia remains high globally, particularly in low-income settings, where a significant proportion of young children and women of childbearing age can be assumed to be anemic. Iron deficiency anemia has also been shown to affect cognitive and physical development in children and reduce productivity in adults.


Sign & Symptoms

The signs exhibited may include pale skin, lining mucosa, conjunctiva, and nail beds. A blue coloration of the sclera may be noticed in some cases of iron deficiency anemia. There may be signs of specific causes of anemia, e.g., koilonychia (in iron deficiency), jaundice (when anemia results from an abnormal break down of red blood cells – in hemolytic anemia), bone deformities (found in thalassemia major), or leg ulcers (seen in sickle-cell disease). In severe anemia, there may be signs of hyperdynamic circulation: tachycardia (a fast heart rate), bounding pulse, flow murmurs, and cardiac ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement). There may be signs of heart failure. Pica, the consumption of non-food items such as ice, but also paper, wax, or grass, and even hair or dirt, may be a symptom of iron deficiency, although it occurs often in those who have normal levels of hemoglobin.

Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and drowsiness. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable, with an increased risk of maternal and child mortality. The optimal hemoglobin concentration needed to meet physiologic needs varies by age, sex, the elevation of residence, smoking habits, and pregnancy status. Anemia is an indicator of both poor nutrition and poor health.

Anemia is problematic on its own, but it can also impact other global nutritional concerns such as stunting and wasting, low birth weight and childhood overweight, and obesity due to lack of energy to exercise. School performance in children and reduced work productivity in adults due to anemia can have further social and economic impacts on the individual and family. 



If nutritional deficiencies are responsible for anemia, eating more iron-rich foods can help. The below-mentioned foods are high in iron :

  1. iron-fortified cereals and bread

  2. Green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and watercress

  3. Pulses and beans

  4. Brown rice

  5. Nuts and seeds

  6. White or red meats, fish

  7. tofu, eggs

  8. Dried fruits, including apricots, raisins



While iron deficiency anemia is the most common form and is relatively easy to treat through dietary changes, other forms of anemia require health interventions that may be less accessible. Accurate characterization of anemia is critical to understand the burden and epidemiology of this problem, for planning public health interventions, and for clinical care of people across the life course.



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0. 40 million
Women treated in India

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