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World Health Statistics Quarterly. Rapport Trimestriel de Statistiques Sanitaires Mondiales. 1985; 38(3):302-16.Tables present data on the prevalence of anemia in the world. Anemia may be defined as a state in which the quantity or the quality of circulating red cells is reduced below the normal level. The most common way to diagnose anemia is by measuring the hemoglobin concentration in the blood which is controlled by a homeostatic mechanism. It varies slightly among normal subjects. In 1959, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed levels of hemoglobin concentrations for different groups of individuals that could be considered as the lower limits of normality. Subjects with values below these levels were considered to be anemic. The causes of anemia, which are multiple, include a deficiency of hemopoietic factos, genetic disorders causing hemolytic anemias, infections including malaria, and increased losses of blood caused inter alia by infections such as ankylostomiasis or schistosomiasis. A survey of the prevalence of anemia in women in developing countries was published by WHO in 1982. It estimated the prevalence of nutritional anemia in developing countries (other than China) at 60% in pregnant women and 47% in non-pregnant women. The prevalence of anemia in all women of reproductive age was estimated at 49%. It appears that studies on the prevalence of anemia were conducted regularly during the 1960-84 period, with the exception of studies on elderly people most of which were conducted before 1970. Most studies included from 100 to 300 subjects. Studies on adolescents usually covered fewer than 100 subjects. The tables provide no data on the severity of anemia, i.e., the percentage of subjects with a hemoglobin concentration below a specific level. On the basis of the present review, the total prevalence of anemia in the world is most likely about 30%. Expressed in absolute numbers this means some 1300 million people of the estimated world population of 4440 million in 1980. For the developing regions of the world, the prevalence of anemia is probably about 36% or 1200 million people, and for the more developed regions about 8% or just under 100 million people. Young children and pregnant women are the most affected groups with an estimated global prevalence of 43% and 51%, respectively. The regions with the highest overall prevalence of anemia are South Asia and Africa. With the exception of pregnant women, the prospects for the prevention of iron deficiency anemia in a population are poor at the present time. Iron fortification and the daily administration of an iron supplement present great problems in developing countries, and they will not be resolved easily.