Risk Factors for Nutritional Anemia

A risk factor makes the chances of getting a disease or health problem higher. You can have anemia with or without any of those listed below. But the more risks you have, the higher the chances you can have it.

Talk to your doctor about the steps you need to take to lower your risk.

Gender and Age

Low iron is most common in women between puberty and menopause. Babies and young children also have a higher risk.


Women who are pregnant need more iron. Folic acid should be taken by all pregnant women. It guards against having too little of it for the mother. But, it also prevents neural tube defects in the baby.


Pain pills, such as aspirin, can cause low levels of bleeding from the stomach. If you take them often, the risk is higher. You may not know this type of bleeding is going on.

Medicines used to lower stomach acid may lower the amount of iron that's taken into the body. Others, such as some antibiotics, can also make your risk higher.


Eating poorly can make the risk of certain types of anemia higher. This can also happen if you drink too much tea or eat a lot of wheat-based foods. These may slow how much iron is taken into the body.

Babies and young children may not get enough iron. This may be caused by cow’s milk (low in iron), or because of the foods they eat or if they're picky eaters.

Health Problems

Cancers, such as colon cancer, can cause blood to leak slowly into the body. Many problems in the stomach or intestines may slow the how the body takes in iron, vitamin B12, or folate.

Lead poisoning also makes the risk higher.



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Overview of decreased erythropoiesis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology-and-oncology/anemias-caused-by-deficient-erythropoiesis/overview-of-decreased-erythropoiesis. Updated July 2018. Accessed October 15, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 10/15/2018

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