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Anaemia a persistent global burden

Friday December 6th, 2013

Young women and children are still more likely to suffer from anaemia, despite increasing efforts to diagnose and treat the condition on a global scale.

A new US report on trends in anaemia between 1990 and 2010, published online Blood found that while the global prevalence of anaemia fell between 1990 and 2010 from 40.2% to 32.9%, it remained responsible for “a significant burden on society”.

“While we know that anaemia is highly prevalent, it has been difficult to quantify the true global burden of this disease without over-counting or duplicating occurrences based on the range of likely causes," said lead study author Dr Nicholas Kassebaum, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle.

“In addition, previous studies have been geographically limited and have lacked detail about the disease's severity or cause.”

Dr Kassebaum and colleagues carried out an analysis of anaemia data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study to seek an accurate estimate of the burden of disease worldwide.

They reviewed data on the 17 most common causes of anaemia cases from 187 countries between 1990 and 2010 to calculate the total prevalence and disability burden rates. Anaemia disease burden was defined based on haemoglobin deficiency.

There was an increase in global Years Living With Disability (YLDs) from 65.5 million to 68.4 million over the 20-year period, greater than the burden associated with major depression, chronic respiratory diseases, and general injuries, the researchers say.

The team also found that while the overall prevalence of anaemia decreased during the study period, the burden among children under the age of five increased, with this age group accounting for more cases of anaemia than any other age group.

Women in most regions and age groups were more likely to have anaemia than men.

While there was a reduction in anaemia burden in East, South, and Southeast Asia, the total anaemia problem increased in other regions, such as the lower income regions of Sub-Saharan Africa.

“While many advances have been made to combat anaemia worldwide, these results demonstrate that this disease remains highly burdensome,” said Dr Kassebaum.

“Further, our study confirms that young children and women continue to carry the greatest burden, underscoring a need for these groups to remain priorities for anaemia control interventions.

“Our hope is that these findings help encourage the facilitation of new strategies to help begin to reduce this burden, particularly in these high-risk populations.”

Blood 2 December 2013

Tags: Africa | Asia | Child Health | North America | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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