Anemia is common among young women. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHENES) revealed that the insufficient iron intake is one of the leading causes of anemia in the US. In Europe and the US, iron fortification of flour increased oral iron intake and decreased anemia prevalence from 30% to 10%. The National Nutrition Survey in Japan by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in 2002 revealed the estimated anemia prevalence of 19 %. Currently, no nationwide preventive policy aims at iron deficiency anemia. However, the prevalence of 19% was estimated based on 3,156 persons in the Survey.


The endpoint of this study was to estimate anemia prevalence among healthy Japanese woman based on a larger sample size.


We collected data from consecutive check-up examination records of apparently healthy women in different age groups in Toranomon Hopital (between January 2002 and March 2005, n = 8,264) and Yuai Memorial Hospital (between February 1998 and February 2005, n = 5,153). We defined hemoglobin lower than 12 g/dL as anemia, hemoglobin lower than 10 g/dL as severe anemia, and mean corpuscular volume lower than 80 fl as microcytic anemia.


The median age was 47 years (range, 11–87 years). Of the 13,147 persons, anemia was identified in 2,331 (17.3 %), and severe and microcytic anemia in 438 (3.3 %) and 700 (5.2 %), respectively. The prevalence of anemia and median hemoglobin values by age groups are shown in Figure. The median hemoglobin values tended to be lower in women of the age groups with high anemia prevalence.


The prevalence of anemia among women of child-bearing age and of working age is high in Japan. As the Japanese population is rapidly decreasing and aging, some action needs to be considered to improve quality of life during pregnancy and working efficiency.

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