11 February 2007

Doctors Urge Parents to Donate Cord Blood

The promise of stem cell research motivates many parents to store umbilical cord blood in case of future illness. Cord blood is typically stored in private banks for future use by family members, but the American Academy of Pediatrics warns about the false hope private, for-profit blood banks may offer:

Physicians should be aware of the unsubstantiated claims of private cord blood banks made to future parents that promise to insure infants or family members against serious illnesses in the future by use of the stem cells contained in cord blood. Although not standard of care, directed cord blood banking should be encouraged when there is knowledge of a full sibling in the family with a medical condition (malignant or genetic) that could potentially benefit from cord blood transplantation.

Recently the AAP issued a statement urging parents to donate cord blood to public cord banks:

"We want to encourage parents to donate to public cord blood banks because this cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of serious conditions," says Dr. Mitchell Cairo, a member of the first AAP Work Group on Cord Blood Banking.

The National Academy of Sciences has recommended a national network of public cord banks to be coordinated by HHS to facilitate the donation and use of cord blood. Its report states:

"The lack of centralized organization, universal quality standards, and uniform matching mechanisms makes it more difficult than it has to be for physicians to provide patients with suitable cells in a timely way... Moreover, there simply aren't enough units of cord blood available now to meet the needs of the roughly 11,700 Americans who could benefit from a transplant of these cells every year. The structure we are recommending for a national cord blood banking program would assure that patients receive high-quality therapeutic cells in the most timely, ethical, and cost-effective manner possible."

Here's a list of a variety of diseases that can potentially be treated with stem cells.


Michelle Fry said...

I have always wondered why more people don't store cord blood. I had no idea though that the list of diseases that could potentially be treated with stem cells so was so extensive.

ohdave said...

Unfortunately most people simply cannot afford to bank cord blood.