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World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct 7;15(37):4644-52.

A short review of malabsorption and anemia.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa, University of Barcelona, Plaza Dr Robert 5, 08221 Terrassa, Barcelona, Spain.


Anemia is a frequent finding in most diseases which cause malabsorption. The most frequent etiology is the combination of iron and vitamin B12 deficiency. Celiac disease is frequently diagnosed in patients referred for evaluation of iron deficiency anemia (IDA), being reported in 1.8%-14.6% of patients. Therefore, duodenal biopsies should be taken during endoscopy if no obvious cause of iron deficiency (ID) can be found. Cobalamin deficiency occurs frequently among elderly patients, but it is often unrecognized because the clinical manifestations are subtle; it is caused primarily by food-cobalamin malabsorption and pernicious anemia. The classic treatment of cobalamin deficiency has been parenteral administration of the vitamin. Recent data suggest that alternative routes of cobalamin administration (oral and nasal) may be useful in some cases. Anemia is a frequent complication of gastrectomy, and has been often described after bariatric surgery. It has been shown that banding procedures which maintain digestive continuity with the antrum and duodenum are associated with low rates of ID. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection may be considered as a risk factor for IDA, mainly in groups with high demands for iron, such as some children and adolescents. Further controlled trials are needed before making solid recommendations about H. pylori eradication in these cases.

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