• This year’s Iron Deficiency Day (26 November 2018) aims to raise awareness of the
    serious public health problems posed by iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia
    and highlight the negative impact the condition can have on its sufferers.1
  • Iron deficiency is present in one-third of the world’s population.2
  • It is most prevalent in premenopausal and pregnant women and children under five
    years of age.3
  • This year, the Iron Deficiency Day Symptom Checker will use animated characters to
    bring the varied and numerous symptoms associated with iron deficiency and iron
    deficiency anaemia to life.


Although iron deficiency can affect anyone, it is most prevalent in premenopausal women, pregnant
woman and children under five years of age3
. Iron deficiency, left untreated, can develop into iron
deficiency anaemia. The effects of iron deficiency differ from person to person, but they can be linked to
an overall decline in general health and well-being.13 Even without anaemia, iron deficiency can be
debilitating, exacerbate an underlying chronic disease and lead to increased morbidity and mortality.4
the condition develops, common symptoms include fatigue,5 , 9, 10 pale skin,5
brittle nails,5 ,11 craving nonfood items such as dirt, clay and ice5, 12 and an inability to concentrate.9, 13 However, the symptoms of iron
deficiency can manifest in different ways; they are hard to pinpoint and can be associated with a number
of other health conditions.4,5 In children specifically, iron deficiency can significantly impair cognitive and
motor development.14

Not recognising the symptoms of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia is often the biggest
contributor to not seeking – and receiving – a diagnosis.4
Learning to identify the symptoms is an
important step towards finding the diagnosis. The new Iron Deficiency Day Symptom Checker will use
animations to elucidate the effects of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in order to educate
people in recognising the condition.

Dr. Diana Mansour, Consultant in Community Gynaecology and Reproductive Health Care and Head of
Sexual Health Services at New Croft Centre in Newcastle, United Kingdom, said: “Iron deficiency affects
so many women across the world and can have a significant impact on their health and quality of life.
Maintaining iron levels is particularly important in pregnant women, as it can affect not only a woman’s
health, but also the development of her unborn child. It is vital that we encourage women to recognise the
symptoms of iron deficiency so that they can talk to their healthcare providers and start to access the
support they need to manage their iron levels effectively.”

Prof Michal Matysiak, Department of Paediatrics, Haematology and Oncology, Medical University of
Warsaw, Poland stresses the point that there’s a real need to raise awareness of the serious
consequences of iron deficiency. “Even though it can have a major impact on a child’s development, iron
deficiency remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. This disease is the number one nutritional
deficiency globally. Greater awareness of iron deficiency and an understanding of its symptoms would
help correct that problem.”


Vifor Pharma Group is a global pharmaceuticals company. It aims to become the global leader in iron deficiency,
nephrology and cardio-renal therapies. The company is the partner of choice for specialty pharmaceuticals and innovative
patient-focused solutions. Vifor Pharma Group strives to help patients around the world with severe and chronic diseases
lead better, healthier lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products for precision
patient care. Vifor Pharma Group holds a leading position in all its core business activities and consists of the following
companies: Vifor Pharma; Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma, a joint company with Fresenius Medical Care;
Relypsa; and OM Pharma. Vifor Pharma Group is headquartered in Switzerland, and listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange
(SIX Swiss Exchange, VIFN, and ISIN: CH0364749348). For more information, please visit[1]

Iron Deficiency Day takes place every year on 26 November and is dedicated to:

  • raising awareness of the serious public health problem iron deficiency poses.
  • highlighting the significant impact iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia can have on the lives of those
    living with it.1
  • helping people recognise the common and often overlooked symptoms

To help people around the world get iron informed, Iron Deficiency Day 2018 has developed a range of information
and materials to help people understand iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia and a Symptom Checker to
help people recognise the numerous but varied symptoms. The Symptom Checker lists the main symptoms
associated with iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia and brings them to life with an animated character, to
further explain each symptom.

Iron deficiency is very common present in one-third of people around the world.2
It is most prevalent in
premenopausal and pregnant women and children under the age of five.3
In Europe for example, iron deficiency
affects up to 33% of pre-menopausal women, up to 77% of pregnant women, and up to 48% of children3
. Iron
deficiency is also frequently associated with chronic inflammatory diseases such as chronic heart failure, chronic
kidney disease and irritable bowel disease.

Iron is required throughout the body. It is essential for the production of red blood cells, and ensuring that the heart
and skeletal muscles can function effectively.15 Iron also plays a vital role in fighting off infections and illness,16
maintaining energy levels16 and normal brain function.17 When the body’s available iron stores are low (iron deficiency)
it can impact almost all aspects of life such as metabolism, mental and physical health, work productivity and even
sexual function.5, 17 The World Health Organization states that iron deficiency can lead to a reduction of 30% in
physical work output.18

For more information visit[2]


1. Hassan, Tamer Hasan et al. “Impact of Iron Deficiency Anemia on the Function of the Immune System in
Children.” Ed. Esaki M. Shankar. Medicine 95.47 (2016): e5395. PMC. Web. 12 June 2018.

2. Peyrin-Biroulet L, et al. Guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency across indications: a
systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(6):1585-94.

3. Hercberg S, et al. Iron deficiency in Europe. Public Health Nutr. 2007;4(2b).

4. Cappellini MD et al. Iron deficiency across chronic inflammatory conditions: International expert opinion on
definition, diagnosis, and management. Am J Hematol. 2017 Oct;92(10):1068-1078.

5. Auerbach M, Adamson JW. How we diagnose and treat iron deficiency anemia. Am J Hematol. 2016;91(1):31-38.

6. Thachil J. Iron deficiency: still under-diagnosed? Br J Hosp Med. 2015;76(9):528-532.

7. Miller JL. Anemia: a common and curable disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013 Jul; 3(7).

8. Caramelo L, Mezzacasa A and Kassebaum NJ. Iron Deficiency. Understanding perceptions of sufferers and the
general public. EHA 21st Annual Congress, 9-12 June 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark.

9. Fernando B, et al. A guide to diagnosis of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in digestive diseases. World J
Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct 7; 15(37): 4638-4643.

10. Favrat, B., et al. (2014). Evaluation of a single dose of ferric carboxymaltose in fatigued, iron-deficient women–
PREFER a randomized, placebo-controlled study. PLoS One 9(4): e94217. eCollection 2014. 11. Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):420-5.

12. Barton JC, et al. Pica associated with iron deficiency or depletion: clinical and laboratory correlates in 262 nonpregnant adult outpatients. BMC Blood Disord. 2010;10:9. doi:10.1186/1471-2326-10-9.

13. Patterson A et al. Iron deficiency, general health and fatigue: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on
Women’s Health. Qual Life Res. 2000;9:491-497.

14. World Health Organisation. Nutritional anaemias: tools for effective prevention and control. 2017. Available at
URL:[3] . Last
accessed: June 2018.

15. Camaschella C. 2015. Iron‐deficiency anemia. N. Engl. J. Med. 372:1832–1843.

16. Beard JL. Iron biology in immune function, muscle metabolism and neuronal functioning. J Nutr. 2001:568-580.

17. Pinero DJ, Connor JR. Iron in the Brain: An Important Contributor in Normal and Diseased States. Neurosci.

18. World Health Organisation. Iron deficiency anaemia. Assessment, prevention and control: A guide for programme
managers. 2001. Available at URL:[4] Last accessed: June 2018.

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