Healthy Tip Tuesday – Teens as blood donors, what you need to know

(Dennison, Ohio) – A recent study suggests teen blood donors take longer to replenish iron after donating blood.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you by Trinity Hospital Twin City.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published the study via 2020 Pediatrics. The study indicates teen blood donors are among the fastest-growing donor demographics nationally, due to their generally good health and ready accessibility in school settings.

The recent study finds that nearly 12 months after donating blood, a significant percentage of teens ages 16-18 had inadequate iron stores. The study, “Recovery of Iron Stores after Adolescents Donate Blood,” published online June 5, found that, among 30,806 teens, up to 40% of females and 20% of males had low ferritin 12 months following their first donation.


Health experts indicate this increased further to as many as 50% of females and 30% of males who donated double units of red blood cells at their first donation. Teen donation occurs against the backdrop of the growth spurt, initiation of menses, and less-healthy dietary habits. In 2015, 13.4% of 12.9 million collected red blood cell units were donated by 16-to 18-year olds, according to research.

Officials add that blood donors commonly develop iron deficiency because each whole blood donation removes approximately 250 mg iron and testing for donor iron stores is not required. The researchers suggest that post-donation, low-dose iron supplements should be strongly encouraged in teens with borderline or low iron stores. This would permit donation without increased risk for symptoms of mild iron depletion.

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