975-Megaloblastic Anemia

Course # DL-975: Megaloblastic Anemia

by Helen M. Sowers, M.A., CLS - Dept of Biological Science (retired) - California State University, East Bay

Approved for 1.0 CE
Level of Difficulty: Basic


Megaloblastic anemias are a heterogeneous group of disorders that have common blood abnormalities and symptoms. The characteristic blood picture consists of large oval erythrocytes, hypersegmented neutrophils and large abnormal platelets. Bone marrow RBC precursors show abnormally high nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio and abnormal megakaryocytes. Nuclear maturation is delayed while cytoplasmic development is normal.

The diseases associated with megaloblastosis are primarily pernicious anemia (associated with vitamin B12 deficiency) and folic acid deficiency. Although the number of megaloblastic anemia cases has decreased in recent years, the incidence remains between 0.25-0.5 cases per 1000 in older individuals.


On completion of this course the participant will be able to:discuss the biochemical basis of megaloblastic anemia

  1. outline the requirements and dietary sources of vitamin B12
  2. outline the requirements and dietary sources of folic acid
  3. list the causes of megaloblastic anemias
  4. outline the symptoms of megaloblastic anemias
  5. describe the blood smear morphology characteristic of megaloblastic anemia
  6. discuss the tests used to differentiate among the different kinds of megaloblastic anemias
  7. interpret the abnormal results in the case study


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