Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
These factors place you at increased risk of anemia:
- A diet lacking in certain vitamins. Choosing a diet that is consistently low in iron, vitamin B-12 and folate increases your risk of anemia.
- Intestinal disorders. Having an intestinal disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients in your small intestine — such as Crohn's disease and celiac disease — puts you at risk for anemia. Surgical removal of or surgery to the parts of your small intestine where nutrients are absorbed can lead to nutrient deficiencies and anemia.
- Menstruation. In general, women who haven't experienced menopause have a greater risk of iron deficiency anemia than do men and postmenopausal women. That's because menstruation causes the loss of red blood cells.
- Pregnancy. If you're pregnant, you're at an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia because your iron stores have to serve your increased blood volume as well as be a source of hemoglobin for your growing fetus.
- Chronic conditions. For example, if you have cancer, kidney or liver failure or another chronic condition, you may be at risk for what's called anemia of chronic disease. These conditions can lead to a shortage of red blood cells. Slow, chronic blood loss from an ulcer or other source within your body can deplete your body's store of iron, leading to iron deficiency anemia.
- Family history. If your family has a history of an inherited anemia, such as sickle cell anemia, you also may be at increased risk for the condition.
- Other factors. A history of certain infections, blood diseases and autoimmune disorders, alcoholism, exposure to toxic chemicals, and the use of some medications can affect red blood cell production and lead to anemia.
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