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Teen Blood Donors More Prone to Complications
Date:5/20/2008

Fainting, bruising could keep this important donor pool from giving again, experts warn

TUESDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. blood collection centers face a conundrum: At a time of decreasing blood donations, a new study shows that an important source of current and future donations, 16- and 17-year-olds, are more likely to bruise, faint or experience other complications when they donate.

That means this critical pool of young donors may be less likely to give in the future, experts say.

"Most donors in all age groups have uncomplicated donations," stressed Dr. Anne Eder, executive medical officer of biomedical services at American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. "What was surprising was how much young donors contribute to the blood supply. The other important finding was that 16- and 17-year-olds were more likely to return to give blood again, but even a minor reaction like dizziness or other symptoms will reduce the likelihood that they will donate again."

Eder is lead author of a study published in the May 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Due to factors including increased restrictions -- such as screening for West Nile virus and Chagas disease -- only an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. adult population is currently eligible to donate blood.

Between 2001 and 2004, there was a 0.2 percent decrease in blood donations in the United States, even though the number of transfusions rose by 2 percent.

Luckily, donations from young people, who are less likely to have infectious diseases, have been on the rise. By 2005, donors aged 16 to 19 represented 14.5 percent of annual donation, with 16- and 17-year-olds contributing 8 percent of the units collected by the Red Cross. About 80 percent of these donations come from high school blood drives. At the same time, the rate of donations from older individuals has declined.

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