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What causes iron deficiency anaemia?

Blood loss is the most common cause of iron deficiency anaemia. It might not always be obvious, such as when it occurs due to trauma, surgery, or in women with heavy menstrual bleeding. For example, slow bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract in some circumstances is not visible and can often go unnoticed. A less common cause of iron deficiency anaemia than blood loss is decreased iron absorption. Your body normally absorbs iron from food in the gastrointestinal tract. However, if the gastrointestinal tract is inflamed, or if you have a condition such as coeliac disease, you might not absorb enough iron, which can lead to iron deficiency anaemia. The lack of iron-rich food is a cause of iron deficiency anaemia in developing countries. In contrast, many developed countries have food with added iron. However, if you are vegetarian or if you don't eat enough red meat, you may not get all the iron you need, because iron is not as readily absorbed from plants as it is from meat. If you are pregnant, you might develop iron deficiency anaemia because of the iron requirements of your growing fetes, as well as the greater volume of circulating blood during pregnancy.

Answered on 18 May 2018. Medically reviewed by Health&

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