Blood donation and iron deficiency

ISBT Science Series, Wiley, ISSN 1751-2824

Volume 12, 1, 2017

DOI:10.1111/voxs.12309, Dimensions: pub.1001852623,



  1. (1) Department of clinical immunologi University Hospital Copenhagen Rigshospitalet Copenhagen Denmark
  2. (2) Department of clinical immunology Naestved Hospital Naestved Denmark
  3. (3) Aarhus University Hospital, grid.154185.c, Central Denmark Region
  4. (4) Department of Epidemiology Research Statens Serum Institut Copenhagen Denmark






Iron deficiency is prevalent in blood donor populations where up to 39%, 22% and 9% of frequently donating premenopausal women, postmenopausal women and men may be iron-deficient, respectively. Moreover, iron deficiency is a global health issue estimated to concern as many as 2ยท7 billion people and explain half of the cases of anaemia worldwide. Iron deficiency manifesting as anaemia could affect the developing foetus and especially cognitive development. Furthermore, iron deficiency (anaemia) may impair scholastic achievements and work productivity and increase fatigue. Moreover, iron deficiency has been associated with impaired innate and specific immunity in in vitro studies. Lastly, iron supplementation may improve endurance, athletic performance and symptoms of restless leg syndrome. However, most of the effects of iron deficiency (anaemia) have not been assessed among blood donors and no association between restless leg syndrome and ferritin levels in blood donors has been established. Blood donors are in general characterized by a good health, and studies indicate that blood donors live a healthier life and have a lower mortality compared to the general population. The underlying excellent health of blood donors needs to be carefully considered when possible health effects of blood donations are investigated. Iron deficiency is a global challenge with a high prevalence in blood donors. Any possible negative health outcome associated with iron deficiency needs to be examined in a blood donor population.

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