Demographic, clinical, and biochemical predictors of pica in high?intensity blood donors

AbstractBackground

Frequent blood donors who contribute multiple times annually are important for maintaining an adequate blood supply. However, repeated donations exacerbate iron deficiency, which can lead to pica, a condition characterised as repeated eating or chewing of a non-nutritious substance such as ice, clay and dirt. Understanding characteristics of frequent donors that are associated with increased risk for developing pica will help to identify them and prevent this adverse consequence of blood donation.

Methods

Demographic, clinical, haematological, and biochemical factors associated with pica were investigated using univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis in a cohort of 1693 high-intensity donors who gave nine or more units of whole blood in the preceding 2?years. Pica was classified by questionnaire responses as consuming at least 8 oz of ice daily and/or consumption of non-ice substances regardless of the amount and frequency.

Results

Pica was present in 1.5% of the high-intensity donors, and only occurred in those with ferritin <50?ng/ml. Of 16 candidate variables, only haematocrit (OR = 0.835, p =?0.020) was independently associated with pica. Although severe iron deficiency was more prevalent in high-intensity donors, pica behaviours were less prevalent than in less frequent donors (2.2%).

Conclusion

We have uncovered predictors of pica in high-intensity donors, which further emphasises the need to continue to implement iron replacement programs to reduce the prevalence of pica and maintain a robust pool of frequent donors.