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Hypochromic anaemia is very common among the island populations of Vanuatu in the South-West Pacific. Results of a large-scale survey show that, unexpectedly, this form of anaemia is seldom due to iron deficiency or coexistent parasitic disease. Rather, it results from a previously unsuspected high incidence of alpha-thalassaemia which has been identified only by application of DNA analysis to the populations studied. These findings suggest that hypochromic anaemia in tropical or subtropical populations should not necessarily be attributed to iron deficiency; detailed studies of iron status should be carried out before major dietary changes or fortification of food with iron are implemented.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1025 - 1028


Adolescent, Adult, Anemia, Hypochromic, Child, DNA, Erythrocyte Indices, Female, Hemoglobins, Abnormal, Humans, Iron Deficiencies, Male, Parasitic Diseases, Thalassemia, Vanuatu