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Deferral due to anaemia is common in blood donor selection, mainly owing to iron deficiency. This study analysed the prevalence of anaemia, its individual and group-associated factors in 335 095 blood donor candidates in the Hemominas Foundation, a public blood centre in Minas Gerais State, Brazil.For the hierarchical analysis, gender, self-reported skin colour and age were included as independent variables at the individual level. Second level variables included proportion of self-reported white, male proportion, prevalence of sickle cell trait and Human Development Index (HDI) for the cities where the blood centres were located.Deferral due to anaemia was 9·71% in the donor population in the present study. Differences among geographic areas throughout the State were observed; living in an area with lower HDI (P < 0·032), female gender and non-white skin colour (both P < 0·001) were significantly associated with anaemia. Cities with a lower HDI had higher prevalence rates of anaemia when compared with the others. Anaemia was more pronounced among female and non-white donors and in the northern part of the State.A high deferral of blood donors due to anaemia, mostly associated with poverty was observed and deserves attention from the public health perspective. Blood centres should consider the profile of donors and their geographic location when planning mobile blood collection or regional campaigns.