Adolescent female blood donors at risk for iron deficiency and associated anemia

ScienceDaily | 2/19/2019 | Staff
AavyAavy (Posted by) Level 4
Each year, an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood, according to the American Red Cross, which coordinates blood drives across the country. Adolescents are increasingly contributing to the donor pool due to blood drives at high schools. In 2015, adolescents ages 16-18 contributed approximately 1.5 million blood donations.

Although blood donation is largely a safe procedure, adolescents are at a higher risk for acute, adverse donation-related problems, such as injuries from fainting during donation, explains study leaders Eshan Patel, M.P.H., a biostatistician in the Department of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Aaron Tobian, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology, medicine, oncology and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of transfusion medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Donation - Risk - Iron - Deficiency - Blood

Additionally, they add, blood donation may also increase the risk of iron deficiency, as each whole blood donation removes about 200-250 milligrams of iron from the blood donor. Because adolescents typically have lower blood volumes, when donating the same amount of blood, they have a relatively higher proportional loss of hemoglobin -- the iron-containing protein in blood cells that transports oxygen -- and consequently more iron during donation than adults. Females are even more at risk of iron deficiency than males due to blood loss during menstruation every month.

Numerous studies have shown that younger age, female sex and increased frequency of blood donation are all associated with lower serum ferritin levels (a surrogate for total body iron levels) in blood donor populations. However, note Patel and Tobian, no study using nationally representative data has compared the prevalence of iron deficiency and associated anemia between blood donor and nondonor populations, specifically adolescents.

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Toward this end, the researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a long-running study designed to assess the health and...
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