A systematic analysis of global anemia burden from 1990 to 2010

Nicholas J. Kassebaum, Rashmi Jasrasaria, Mohsen Naghavi, Sarah K. Wulf, Nicole Johns, Rafael Lozano, Mathilda Regan, David Weatherall, David P. Chou, Thomas P. Eisele, Seth R. Flaxman, Rachel L. Pullan, Simon J. Brooker and Christopher J.L. Murray

Key points

  • Anemia accounted for 8.8% of the total disability from all conditions in 2010; children <5 years and women still have the highest burden.

  • Though iron-deficiency anemia is the most common etiology globally, other leading causes of anemia vary widely by geography, age and sex.


Previous studies of anemia epidemiology have been geographically limited with little detail about severity or etiology. Using publicly available data, we estimated mild, moderate and severe anemia from 1990 to 2010 for 187 countries, both sexes, and 20 age groups. We then performed cause-specific attribution to 17 conditions using data and resources from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors (GBD) 2010 Study. Global anemia prevalence in 2010 was 32.9%, causing 68.36 (95% CI 40.98 - 107.54) million years lived with disability (8.8% of total for all conditions; 95% CI 6.3-11.7%). Prevalence dropped for both sexes from 1990 to 2010, though more for males. Females' prevalence was higher in most regions and age groups. South Asia and central, west, and east sub-Saharan Africa had the highest burden, while east, southeast, and south Asia saw the greatest reductions. Iron-deficiency anemia was the top cause globally, though ten different conditions were among the top three in regional rankings. Malaria, schistosomiasis, and chronic kidney disease-related anemia were the only conditions to increase in prevalence. Hemoglobinopathies made significant contributions in most populations. Burden was highest in children under 5 years old, the only age groups with negative trends from 1990 to 2010.

  • Submitted June 12, 2013.
  • Accepted October 8, 2013.