Donating blood before pregnancy is safe for mothers and babies

What is this research about?

Blood donations, especially when repeated, can deplete iron stores (iron deficiency) and lead to low hemoglobin levels (anemia). Iron deficiency is common in regular whole blood donors, with fatigue the most commonly reported symptom. For women of child-bearing age, iron deficiency is of particular concern because it may be associated with poor outcomes in mothers and babies.

The screening test for donor hemoglobin done before each donation ensures that donors with a hemoglobin level below the cut-off do not donate. Donors are also informed about the need for increased iron in their diet and, for frequent donors, the advisability of iron supplementation. However, repeat donors could unknowingly have iron deficiency since the predonation screening process checks the hemoglobin levels of potential donors but not their iron stores, and it’s possible to have adequate hemoglobin levels to donate while still being iron deficient.

To better understand the potential impact of repeated blood donation by women, this study examined if there is an association between blood donations in female donors of child-bearing age and a risk of poor outcomes in the mother or her baby.

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