How are adolescents who donate blood effected?

"Teenagers aged 16 to 18 are at increased risk for iron deficiency, exacerbated by losses with whole blood (WB) or double red blood cell (2RBC) donations" Vassallo et al (2020).

Abstract:

Background: Teenagers aged 16 to 18 are at increased risk for iron deficiency, exacerbated by losses with whole blood (WB) or double red blood cell (2RBC) donations. Required 56-day (WB) or 112-day (2RBC) interdonation intervals (IDIs) are too short for many to replace lost iron without supplements.

Methods: Teenagers donating WB or 2RBCs at Vitalant, a national blood provider, had serum ferritin measured at their first and immediately subsequent successful donation from December 2016 to 2018. We modeled postindex log-ferritin as a function of IDI to estimate the shortest intervals that corresponded with 50% to 95% prevalence of adequate donor iron stores (ferritin ≥20 ng/mL female donors, ≥30 ng/mL male donors) at the subsequent donation.

Results: Among 30 806 teenagers, 11.4% of female and 9.7% of male donors had inadequate iron stores at index donation. Overall, 92.6% had follow-up ferritin values within 13 months. Approximately 12 months after WB index donations, >60% of female and >80% of male donors had adequate iron stores (>50% and >70% after 2RBC donations). Follow-up-donation iron stores were highly dependent on index ferritin. Less than half of WB donors with low ferritin at index achieved adequate stores within 12 months. Achieving a ≥90% prevalence of adequate ferritin at 12 months required index values >50 ng/mL.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that postdonation low-dose iron supplements should be strongly encouraged in teenagers with borderline or low iron stores to permit donation without increased risk for symptoms of mild iron depletion. Increasing the minimum recommended IDI to allow time for replacing donation-related iron losses may be desirable for teenagers.

Reference:

Vassallo, R. R., Hilton, J. F., Bravo, M. D., Vittinghoff, E., Custer, B. and Kamel, H. (2020) Recovery of Iron Stores After Adolescents Donate Blood. Pediatrics. 146(1), p.e20193316. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-3316

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