Iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) cause an immense disease burden worldwide. Globally, there were over 1.2 billion cases of IDA in 2016​.

In 2016​, 41.7% of children (younger than 5 years), 40.1% of pregnant women, and 32.5% of non-pregnant women were anaemic worldwide. Controlling anaemia is a global health priority, with WHO aiming for a 50% reduction in anaemia prevalence in women by 2025.

WHO estimates that 42% of anaemia cases in children and 50% in women are amenable to iron supplementation, with variation between regions but meta-analyses of population studies​ suggest the contribution of ID to anaemia could be smaller than the WHO estimate: 25% in children and 37% in women.

Because of the paucity of population studies measuring iron biomarkers (beyond haemoglobin) and complexities in their interpretation during inflammation, prevalence
estimates of ID in LMICs are uncertain. 

A range of health problems can be caused by iron deficiency, including heart problems or, when pregnant women or children are iron deficient, the child is at risk of developmental problems, said Associate Professor Pasricha, who is also a haematologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital.

A new review, published in The Lancet​, provides updated guidelines for how to test for iron deficiency, and the best approaches to treat it.

Lead author Associate Professor Pasricha, leads the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Anaemia Detection and Control at WEHI, which provides up-to-date, evidence-based advice to the WHO. 

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