Men are more likely to die prematurely if they receive blood from a woman who has been pregnant, new research reveals.
The most common cause of such male deaths is transfusion-related acute lung injury, a study found, which causes sufferers to be unable to take in sufficient air.
For unclear reasons, women are unaffected by receiving blood from once-pregnant females, the research adds.
Researchers say further investigation is required to determine why this male-specific death risk occurs.
Professor Kevin McConway, from The Open University, who was not involved in the study, said: ‘It’s important not to read too much into this study. I’m a man, and I wouldn’t be concerned.’
WHAT IS TRANSFUSION-RELATED ACUTE LUNG INJURY?
Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) is a rare but serious condition that affects around one in 5,000 people within six hours of receiving blood.
It is defined as having sudden breathing difficulties.
TRALI is usually caused by the activation of white blood cells received from the donor.
Symptoms include breathlessness and abnormally rapid breathing.
Most patients require ventilation support.
Source: Canadian Blood Services
How the research was carried out
Researchers from Sanquin Research in Leiden, the Netherlands, analysed death rates among 31,118 patients who received 59,320 blood transfusions across six hospitals.
Of which, 13 per cent of patients died after receiving donors’ blood.
Three types of donors were evaluated: men, women who had previously been pregnant and women who had never been pregnant.
Men more at risk of death when receiving blood from a pregnant women
Results reveal deaths are significantly more likely to occur in men receiving blood from a woman who has been pregnant as opposed to a male donor.
The most common cause of death is transfusion-related acute lung injury.
Females receiving blood from once-pregnant women are unaffected.
It is unclear why this occurs.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For unclear reasons, women are unaffected by receiving blood from once-pregnant females
‘I’m a man and I wouldn’t be concerned’
Study author Dr Rutger Middelburg: ‘Further research is needed to replicate these findings, determine their clinical significance and identify the underlying mechanism.’
Professor McConway added: ‘Maybe there is some difference between men who received blood from women who had been pregnant, and men who had blood from other donors, that has nothing to do with the source of the blood they received.
‘Even if the effect on mortality is real, all the data come from the population of the Netherlands, and things may work differently in populations with different genetic backgrounds.
‘For all these reasons and others, it’s important not to read too much into this study, and I don’t think there is yet any real cause for men to be particularly concerned about this issue if they need a blood transplant. At least, I’m a man, and I wouldn’t be concerned.’