Pernicious anemia is more common in people of Northern European and African descent.
In the United States, older people are at higher risk for the condition. This is mainly due to a lack of stomach acid and intrinsic factor, which prevents the small intestine from absorbing vitamin B12. As people grow older, they tend to make less stomach acid.
Pernicious anemia also occurs in younger people and other populations groups. You're at higher risk for pernicious anemia if you:
- Have a family history of the condition.
- Have had part or all of your stomach removed. The stomach makes intrinsic factor, a protein that helps your body absorb vitamin B12.
- Have certain autoimmune disorders that involve the endocrine glands, such as Addison's disease, type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease, and vitiligo. Research suggests a link may exist between these autoimmune disorders and pernicious anemia that's caused by an autoimmune response.
- Have had part or all of your small intestine removed. The small intestine is where vitamin B12 is absorbed.
- Have certain intestinal diseases or disorders that prevent your body from properly absorbing vitamin B12. Examples include Crohn's disease and intestinal infections.
- Take medicines that prevent your body from properly absorbing vitamin B12. Examples of such medicines include antibiotics and certain seizure medicines.
- Are a strict vegetarian who doesn't eat any animal or dairy products and doesn't take a vitamin B12 supplement, or if you eat poorly overall.
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