Pernicious Anemia (cont.)

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Can pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency be prevented?

The autoimmune process that causes pernicious anemia cannot be prevented. Vitamin B-12 deficiency that is caused by conditions such as other gastrointestinal diseases and gastrointestinal surgery is preventable only to the extent that these causative conditions themselves are preventable.

Vitamin B-12 is derived from animal (for example, meat, fish, poultry, milk) sources, but vitamin B-12 deficiency in vegetarians or vegans can be prevented by the use of oral vitamin B-12 supplements. An oral dose of 100-200 micrograms (mcg) taken weekly is sufficient. Pregnant and nursing women who are vegetarians or vegan should take a B-12 supplement and inform their doctors they are vegetarians or vegan.

What is the prognosis for pernicious anemia/ vitamin B-12 deficiency?

If untreated, the neurological complications of pernicious anemia can be permanent and end in death, but pernicious anemia is easily and effectively treated by the administration of vitamin B-12. Life-long treatment is required.

People with pernicious anemia have a slightly increased risk of stomach cancer when compared to the normal population. The incidence of stomach cancer in people with pernicious anemia is 2-3 times higher than in the general population of the same age.

Medically reviewed by Rambod Rouhbakhsh, M.D., MBA, FAAFP; American Board of Family Medicine

REFERENCE:

eMedicine.com, "Pernicious anemia."


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/4/2013

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