Open Access Open Badges Research article

Clinical evaluation of iron treatment efficiency among non-anemic but iron-deficient female blood donors: a randomized controlled trial

Sophie Waldvogel1*, Baptiste Pedrazzini2, Paul Vaucher3, Raphael Bize2, Jacques Cornuz2, Jean-Daniel Tissot1 and Bernard Favrat2

Author Affiliations

1 Blood Transfusion Service of the Swiss Red Cross, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University Hospital of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

3 Department of Community Medicine, Ambulatory Care, and Emergencies, University of Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Medicine 2012, 10:8  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-8

Published: 24 January 2012



Iron deficiency without anemia is related to adverse symptoms that can be relieved by supplementation. Since a blood donation can induce such an iron deficiency, we investigated the clinical impact of iron treatment after a blood donation.


One week after donation, we randomly assigned 154 female donors with iron deficiency without anemia, aged below 50 years, to a four-week oral treatment of ferrous sulfate versus a placebo. The main outcome was the change in the level of fatigue before and after the intervention. Aerobic capacity, mood disorder, quality of life, compliance and adverse events were also evaluated. Hemoglobin and ferritin were used as biological markers.


The effect of the treatment from baseline to four weeks of iron treatment was an increase in hemoglobin and ferritin levels to 5.2 g/L (P < 0.01) and 14.8 ng/mL (P < 0.01), respectively. No significant clinical effect was observed for fatigue (-0.15 points, 95% confidence interval -0.9 points to 0.6 points, P = 0.697) or for other outcomes. Compliance and interruption for side effects was similar in both groups. Additionally, blood donation did not induce overt symptoms of fatigue in spite of the significant biological changes it produces.


These data are valuable as they enable us to conclude that donors with iron deficiency without anemia after a blood donation would not clinically benefit from iron supplementation.

Trial Registration NCT00981877