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J Emerg Med. 2010 Apr;38(3):302-7. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Ambulatory dysfunction due to unrecognized pernicious anemia.

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University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Camden, New Jersey 08103, USA.


Pernicious anemia can result in significant hematologic and neurologic impairments due to a reduction in cobalamin absorption. Typically thought to be a disease of elderly whites, a growing body of literature has documented the disease in blacks and in younger age groups. We describe a case of a young black woman with gradually progressive lower extremity paresthesias, weakness, and ataxia as the primary presenting symptoms of pernicious anemia. This case is presented to make emergency physicians aware of pernicious anemia as a cause of ambulatory dysfunction in younger patients. We review the current body of literature on the diagnosis and management as well as evidence that the demographic profile of the disease is changing. Furthermore, in women of reproductive age, there is the potential for significant fetal and infant morbidity.

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