Anemia is a condition in which there is a decrease or destruction of red blood cells causing inadequate transport of oxygen throughout the body. It is a major public health problem affecting ~25% of the global population, or ~9 million Canadians of all ages.
In infants and children, anemia can impair brain development and decrease learning ability. In adults, it can cause fatigue, lower work capacity and increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g. low birthweight). Causes of anemia can include micronutrient deficiencies (e.g. iron or folic acid), infection and disease, and genetic hemoglobin disorders (e.g. thalassemia). Understanding the causes of anemia is critical to inform appropriate strategies to prevent and treat anemia, and to reduce the risk and burden of disease.
Dr. Karakochuk's research program will seek to improve diagnostic methods and investigate novel biomarkers for anemia and iron deficiency, and assess the risk-benefit of iron and folic acid supplementation programs designed to treat anemia and other chronic diseases. The ultimate goals are to reduce the burden of anemia and to inform safe and effective nutrition policy, programs and interventions for individuals and populations in Canada and globally.