Pernicious Anemia

(Juvenile Pernicious Anemia; Congenital Pernicious Anemia)

Definition

Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. When red blood cells are low the body does not get enough oxygen. Pernicious anemia is associated with problems absorbing vitamin B12. This vitamin is needed to make healthy RBCs. Over time the low vitamin B12 levels will reduce the number of new RBCs. The sooner pernicious anemia is treated, the better the outcome.
Red Blood Cells
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Causes

There are many possible causes of pernicious anemia. These include:
  • Inflammation of the stomach—atrophic gastritis
  • Immune system reaction to:
    • Intrinsic factor—a protein necessary for vitamin B12 absorption
    • Cells that produce both intrinsic factor and hydrochloric acid in the stomach
  • Removal of all or part of the stomach
  • Genetic defect

Risk Factors

Pernicious anemia is more common in people over 50 years old, and in those of northern European or Scandinavian descent. Factors that may increase your chance of pernicious anemia include:Autoimmune disorders, such as:

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