Prevalence of restless legs syndrome in blood donors


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Iron deficiency anemia has been linked to restless legs syndrome (RLS) and regular blood donation may lead to iron deficiency. It has been reported that blood donations may be associated with RLS. A recent study from Sweden found that 25% of the women donors were affected by RLS. However, this type of study has not been replicated in the United States. We conducted a study in our blood donation unit between September and October 2008. To identify those with RLS, we used the RLS diagnostic index questionnaire by Benes et al. The proportion of blood donors with RLS was estimated and the number of blood donations and hemoglobin levels were compared according to RLS status. One hundred and fifty one patients were interviewed; 7 patients who donated only platelets were excluded, leaving 144 patients for analysis. There were 13 (9.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.9–14.9%) patients with RLS. Of these, 7 (4.9%, 95% CI: 2.0–9.8%) had possible RLS and 6 (4.2%, 95% CI: 1.5–8.9%) had major or clinically relevant RLS. There was no dramatic association between RLS and number of blood donations or hemoglobin level (all P ≥ 0.21). In our sample of blood donors in the United States, the prevalence of major RLS was 4%. We could not demonstrate an association between RLS and the frequency of blood donation or hemoglobin level in our relatively small sample; a larger sample is needed to better identify any associations. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society