Red blood cell donations from women who have been pregnant won't cause fatal reactions in patients who get the blood, a new study finds.
Earlier studies have suggested that women who have been pregnant shouldn't give blood, because antibodies that develop during pregnancy could cause a potentially deadly complication in recipients of their blood. That complication is called transfusion-related acute lung injury.
For the new study, researchers collected data on more than 1 million red blood cell recipients in the United States, Sweden and Denmark.
The investigators found no significant differences in deaths related to blood transfusions from women who had been pregnant, those who had never been pregnant, and men.
"The results are reassuring in that the survival of patients who got transfused with red blood cells does not appear to be associated with whether the blood they received was donated by a man, by a woman who had been pregnant -- or by one who had not. That's important to know," said Dr. Simone Glynn. She is chief of the Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics Branch of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Worldwide, more than 80 million units of red blood cells are transfused each year.
Dr. Gustaf Edgren, a senior researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said, "We proactively address potential risks to the blood supply, and we take this seriously. Transfusions are very common procedures, and our findings ensure that the current practice is safe and doesn't need to be changed."
The report was published online June 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For more about blood transfusions, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
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