Iron status in Dutch and Finnish blood donor and general populations: A cross-cohort comparison study

Jan H. M. Karregat, Sofie Ekroos, Johanna Castrén, Mikko Arvas, Katja van den Hurk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Objectives: Blood donors are at risk of developing iron deficiency (ID) (ferritin <15 μg/L, World Health Organization definition). Blood services implement different strategies to mitigate this risk. Although in Finland risk group-based iron supplementation is in place, no iron supplementation is provided in the Netherlands. We aim to describe differences in ferritin levels and ID prevalence in donor and general populations in these countries. Materials and Methods: Six cohorts, stratified based on sex, and for women age, in the Netherlands and Finland were used to evaluate differences in ferritin levels and ID between donor populations (Donor InSight-III and FinDonor 10,000) and general populations (Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease [PREVEND], FinRisk 1997 and Health 2000) and newly registered Dutch donors. Multivariable logistic regression was used to quantify associations of various explanatory factors with ID. Results: In total, 13,443 Dutch and 13,933 Finnish subjects were included. Donors, except for women aged ≤50 years old in Finland, had lower median ferritin levels compared with the general population and new donors. Dutch regular blood donors had higher or similar prevalence of ID as compared with the Dutch general population, including new donors. In contrast, Finnish donors showed similar prevalence of ID compared with the general population, except for a markedly lower prevalence in ≤50-year-old women who routinely receive iron supplements when donating. Conclusion: Iron status in blood donors differs from that in the general population. The Finnish blood service donor management policy, for example, iron supplementation for risk groups, seemingly protects young female blood donors from developing ID.

Original languageEnglish
JournalVox sanguinis
Early online date2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024


  • blood donation
  • cross-cohort comparison
  • ferritin
  • iron deficiency
  • iron supplementation

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