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Megaloblastic anemia - view of red blood cells
Megaloblastic anemia - view of red blood cells

Hypersegmented PMN (Close-up)
Hypersegmented PMN (Close-up)

Blood cells
Blood cells


Megaloblastic anemia is a blood disorder in which there is anemia with larger-than-normal red blood cells.

Alternative Names:

Anemia - megaloblastic

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Megaloblastic anemia is usually caused by a deficiency of folic acid or vitamin B12 . Other causes are:

Risk factors relate to the causes.

See also: Pernicious anemia


Signs and tests:

Examination of the nervous system may show:

  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Decreased sense of position
  • Decreased sense of vibration
  • Serum ferritin Tests include:


The first goal is to diagnose the cause of the anemia. The treatment depends on the cause. Anemias related to specific vitamin deficiencies are discussed separately.

Support Groups:

Expectations (prognosis):

The outcome depends on the cause of the anemia.


Complications vary with the cause of the anemia.

Calling your health care provider:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of this condition.


Getting enough vitamin B12 and folic acid is helpful.


Antony AC. Megoblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 170.

Review Date: 11/23/2008
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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