The prevalence of anaemia in women: a tabulation of available information. 2nd ed.
The discussion of the prevalence of anemia in women focused on definitions of nutritional anemia, cause of nutritional anemia, and the sources of data and estimation methods. Tables are provided by country and region for hemoglobin levels (mean and percentage below the mean for lactating women, for pregnant women, for nonpregnant women, and all women) and for serum iron, serum folate, and serum vitamin B12 (mean and percentage below the norm). WHO's Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Program is the repository for data. Nutritional anemia is caused by malnutrition such that the hemoglobin content of the blood is lower than normal as a result of deficiency in 1 or more essential nutrients. Iron is usually stored in the bone where it can be used to increase the rate of formation of hemoglobin to satisfy increased needs, such as during pregnancy. Causes of anemia are low nutrient intake, poor absorption or utilization, or increased nutrient losses or demands. Iron is absorbed more readily in the presence of animal foods or vitamin C and inhibited by meals of tea or high levels of bran. Other causes are malaria, sickle cell disease, bacterial infections, blood loss from obstetric causes, or intestinal parasites, such as hookworms. Underlying factors are poverty and hardships from poor nutrition, water shortages, food taboos, inadequacies in food production and storage and the absence of effect systems of social security. Anemia can be a direct cause of death or contribute to hemorrhage, which can lead to death, e.g., an anemic mother during childbirth cannot afford to lose less than 150 ml of blood, compared with a healthy mother's 1 liter blood loss. Anemic mothers have a lower resistance to infection, and surgery poses a risk. WHO anemia levels are determined as < 120 g/L of hemoglobin for nonpregnant adult women and < 110 g.L for pregnant adult women, < .50mg/L serum iron, < 3 ng/ml serum folate concentration, and < 100 pg/ml serum vitamin B12. 2,170 million persons were found to be anemic according to WHO definitions. The most affected groups were pregnant women, preschool age children, low birth weight infants, other women, the elderly, school age children, and adult men. In developing countries, prevalence rates are 40-60% among pregnant women. In developed countries, 18% if pregnant women and 12% of nonpregnant women are anemic. Over 33% of women in the world were anemic; the problem is particularly acute in Asia.