Risk factors for anaemia


Risk factors differ for the different types of anaemia.

Iron-deficiency anaemia
Infants and young children, women of child-bearing age, and adults older than 65 years are at highest risk for iron-deficiency anaemia.

Aplastic anaemia
People of all ages can get aplastic anaemia. However, it’s most common in adolescents, young adults and the elderly. Men and women are equally likely to have it.

Your risk for aplastic anaemia is higher if you have:

  • Been exposed to toxins
  • Taken certain medicines or had radiation or chemotherapy treatment
  • Certain infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders or inherited conditions

Haemolytic anaemia
A family history of haemolytic anaemia means you’re at increased risk for this condition that affects people of all ages, races and sexes.

Family history and ancestry are the two risk factors for thalassaemias.

Sickle cell anaemia
Sickle cell anaemia is most common in people whose families descended from Africa, South or Central America, the Caribbean islands, the Mediterranean countries, India and Saudi Arabia.

Pernicious anaemia
You’re at higher risk for pernicious anaemia if you:

  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have an autoimmune disorder that involves the endocrine glands, such as Addison's disease, type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease or vitiligo

Fanconi anaemia
Fanconia anaemia occurs in all racial and ethnic groups and affects men and women equally. 

You’re at increased risk of developing this disease if you have a family history of the condition.

Anaemia of chronic disease
People with chronic infections such as HIV and TB; inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis; cancer; chronic kidney disease; severe trauma; diabetes; heart failure; emphysema; and other conditions causing chronic immune activation are at risk for this type of anaemia. 

Reviewed by Cape Town-based general practitioner, Dr Dalia Hack. October 2018.

Read more:

- How is anaemia diagnosed?

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