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As millions of baby boomers reach the age of retirement and
beyond the need for blood donations will continue to increase and teenagers will
be looked to provide more donations; however, a study conducted by the American
Red Cross now reports that these same teenagers suffer from complications when donating at a far higher rate than older Americans.

[The report] shows that blood donors who were 16- and
17-year-olds are more likely to bruise or faint when giving blood. 10.7
percent of teens in that age group suffered a complication.

The risk of complication dramatically decreased to only 2.8 percent of donors over the age of 20. The fear is that complications from early donations could result in a reluctance to donate blood later in life. This is a very real and dangerous problem that those in need of blood could soon face.

Experts estimate that blood donated by teens between the ages of 16 and 19 account for 15 percent of the nation’s blood supply in a given year. If this were to drop off or not increase as the need increases it could lead to a nationwide blood shortage.

Middle age repeat donations dropped off by 40 percent from 1995 to 2006 and restrictions on who can donate have also cut into the of number of people eligible to donate blood and therefore the supply.

Some have tried to reduce the amount of blood taken from younger and first-time donors and have had success reducing complications. This may be a way to increase the likelihood of that a first-time donor becomes a donor for life.

The study appears in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association

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