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Anaemia affects a quarter of the global population, including 293 million (47%) children younger than 5 years and 468 million (30%) non-pregnant women. In addition to anaemia's adverse health consequences, the economic effect of anaemia on human capital results in the loss of billions of dollars annually. In this paper, we review the epidemiology, clinical assessment, pathophysiology, and consequences of anaemia in low-income and middle-income countries. Our analysis shows that anaemia is disproportionately concentrated in low socioeconomic groups, and that maternal anaemia is strongly associated with child anaemia. Anaemia has multifactorial causes involving complex interaction between nutrition, infectious diseases, and other factors, and this complexity presents a challenge to effectively address the population determinants of anaemia. Reduction of knowledge gaps in research and policy and improvement of the implementation of effective population-level strategies will help to alleviate the anaemia burden in low-resource settings.

Original publication





Lancet (London, England)

Publication Date





2123 - 2135


Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115-6096, USA.


Humans, Anemia, Hemoglobins, Risk Factors, Developing Countries, Poverty, Socioeconomic Factors