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Demographic correlates of low hemoglobin deferral among prospective whole blood donors.

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Approximately 10% of attempted blood donations are not allowed because of low hemoglobin (Hb) deferral.

Study design and methods

Low Hb deferrals were tracked in more 715,000 whole blood donors at six blood centers across the United States. A multivariable logistic regression model was developed to comprehensively assess demographic correlates for low Hb deferral.


Demographic factors significantly associated with low Hb deferral include female sex (11 times greater odds than males), increasing age in men (men over 80 have 29 times greater odds than men under 20), African American race (2-2.5 times greater odds than Caucasians), Hispanic ethnicity in women (1.29 times greater odds than Caucasian women), and weight in men (men under 124 pounds have 2.5 times greater odds than men over 200 pounds). Interestingly, increasing donation frequency is associated with decreased odds for low Hb deferral (women with one donation in the previous 12 months have two times greater odds than those with six donations).


Low Hb deferral is associated with female sex, older age, African American race/ethnicity, and lower body weight in men. An inverse association with donation frequency suggests a selection bias in favor of donors able to give more frequently. These data provide useful information that can be utilized to manage blood donors to limit low Hb deferrals and assist in policy decisions such as changing the Hb cutoff or permissible frequency of donation. They also generate hypotheses for new research of the causes of anemia in defined groups of donors.

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