At last, something men are better at than women!

That is, giving blood for babies, at least maybe.

The introduction to this new publication notes something that I was not aware of, that plasma donated by women is associated with a substantially greater frequency of transfusion related complications than man-plasma. It is thought to be due, perhaps to the leukocyte antibodies in higher concentration in female derived plasma, and the increase in risk is particularly in TRALI (transfusion related lung injury), and was first identified by the UK surveillance program, Serious Hazards of Transfusion, which I guess has the acronym SHAT.

The new article (Murphy T, et al. Impact of Blood Donor Sex on Transfusion-Related Outcomes in Preterm Infants. The Journal of pediatrics. 2018) examined the donor sex of blood given to preterm babies. We use a lot of blood in our tiniest babies, but not that much plasma; platelet transfusions are not uncommon and they contain a lot of plasma. In this study they only included babies who had received blood, and excluded those who had also had high plasma products. They ended up with a cohort of 170 babies under 32 weeks who had received blood, and divided them into groups of female only donors, male only donors and both. Initial comparisons were between the male only and the others, and that showed that babies who were received some female donor blood had more BPD, more composite morbidity and longer hospital stay than those who received exclusively man-blood.

If you think about it, getting out of the NICU having received blood from only male donors, compared to mixed male/female donors is more likely if you only have one or two transfusion donors. So the authors found that the mixed male/female donor group were more likely to have had more transfusions than the male-donor-only group. Perhaps they were therefore were sicker and had more complications. When they corrected for numbers of transfusions there was still a difference, with male-donor-only babies having better outcomes, but with smaller Odds Ratios and confidence intervals that now included no difference.

They then also compared those that had only female donors to the male-donor-only group, to compare recipients who had the same numbers of transfusions; the numbers are now getting smaller, about 60 per group. The odds ratios for BPD and any major morbidity (1.12 and 1.75) remain in the direction of worse outcomes with female-donor blood, but the confidence intervals are now quite wide and include no effect (or even a protective impact).

The data suggest then that it is possible that there is an impact, with man-blood recipients having better outcomes. Certainly a big enough impact to be worth investigating further. Donating blood also increases your life expectancy maybe if more men donated blood we could catch up to women, and provide safer blood to babies also!

About Keith Barrington

I am a neonatologist and clinical researcher at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montréal
This entry was posted in Neonatal Research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to At last, something men are better at than women!

  1. Pingback: Belarus, Neonatal MRI’s & infant mortality – The Neonatal Womb Warriors

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