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Blood donation may deplete iron stores in teens

24 Jun 2020

Some teenage blood donors may sustain reduced iron stores even a year after donation, according to a study, which strongly encourages low-dose iron supplementation especially in those with borderline or low iron stores to minimize the risk of symptoms of mild iron depletion.

The analysis included 30,806 teenagers aged 16–18 years who had donated whole blood (WB) or double red blood cells (2RBCs). Serum ferritin was measured at their first and subsequent successful donations.Researchers estimated the shortest intervals that corresponded with 50 percent to 95 percent prevalence of adequate donor iron stores (ferritin ≥20 ng/mL for female donors and ≥30 ng/mL for male donors) at the subsequent donation.

At index donation, 11.4 percent of female donors and 9.7 percent of male donors had inadequate iron stores. Follow-up ferritin values within 13 months were available in 92.6 percent of the population.

About 12 months following index donations, iron stores remained adequate in >60 percent of teenage girls and >80 percent of teenage boys who had donated WB, as well as in >50 percent and >70 percent, respectively, who had donated 2RBCs.

Postdonation iron stores were highly dependent on index ferritin, such that achieving a ≥90-percent prevalence of adequate ferritin at 12 months required index values of >50 ng/mL. Less than half of WB donors with low index ferritin achieved adequate stores within 12 months.

In light of the findings, the researchers pointed out that the minimum inter-donation interval be increased in teenage blood donors to allow more time for body iron store repletion.

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