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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Bryan R. Spencer, MPH, American Red Cross, New England Region, 180 Rustcraft Rd., Ste. 115, Telephone: 781-320-3920, Fax: 781-320-3910, Dedham, MA 02026, Bryan.Spencer@redcross.org.

The authors thank the staff at all six participating blood centers.

Without their help, this study would not have been possible.

The Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study (REDS)- II was the responsibility of the following persons: Blood Centers: 1) American Red Cross Blood Services, New England Region: R. Cable, J. Rios, R. Benjamin; 2) American Red Cross Blood Services, Southern Region/Emory University: J.D. Roback; 3) Blood Center of Wisconsin: J. Gottschall, A.E. Mast; 4) Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center: R.A. Sacher, S.L. Wilkinson, P.M. Carey; 5) Regents of the University of California/Blood centers of the Pacific/BSRI: E.L. Murphy, B. Custer and N. Hirschler; 6) The Institute for Transfusion Medicine (ITxM)/LifeSource Blood Services: D. Triulzi, R. Kakaiya, J. Kiss; Central Laboratory: Blood Systems Research Institute: M.P. Busch, P. Norris; Coordinating Center: Westat, Inc.: J Shulman, M. King; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH: G.J. Nemo; Steering Committee Chairman: R.Y. Dodd.

The authors state that they have no conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

This study was supported by contracts N01HB47168; N01HB47169; N01HB47170; N01HB47171; N01HB47172; N01HB47174; N01HB47175; N01HB57181 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Hematology
  • RLS

Restless legs syndrome, pica, and iron status in blood donors


Journal Title:



Volume 53, Number 8


, Pages 1645-1652

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background The association of blood donation-related iron deficiency with pica or restless legs syndrome (RLS) remains poorly elucidated. This study evaluated the prevalence of RLS and pica in blood donors completing the REDS-II Iron Status Evaluation (RISE) study. Study Design and Methods RISE enrolled 2425 blood donors in a prospective cohort study; 1334 donors provided blood samples to characterize iron status and answered a questionnaire inquiring into symptoms of RLS and pica at a final visit after 15 to 24 months of follow-up. Associations between both conditions and iron status were evaluated. Results There were 9 and 20% of donors reporting symptoms of probable or probable/possible RLS, respectively. Iron depletion and donation intensity were not predictive of RLS. Pica was reported by 65 donors (5.5%), half of whom reported daily cravings. Prevalence of pica increased with degree of iron depletion in women (2% in iron-replete females, 13% in those with ferritin < 12 ng/mL), but not in men. Probable RLS and pica coexpressed in eight individuals, but no more frequently than expected by chance. Conclusion RLS and pica have been associated with iron deficiency in nondonor populations. This study indicates a potentially high prevalence of RLS in frequent blood donors but shows no association with iron status or donation intensity. Low iron stores were associated with higher prevalence of pica, but only in females. Furthermore, the results are incompatible with RLS and pica sharing a common pathophysiology.

Copyright information:

© 2013 American Association of Blood Banks.

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