NYMC Faculty Publications

Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation

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This policy statement is intended to provide information to guide pediatricians, obstetricians, and other medical specialists and health care providers in responding to parents' questions about cord blood donation and banking as well as the types (public versus private) and quality of cord blood banks. Cord blood is an excellent source of stem cells for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in children with some fatal diseases. Cord blood transplantation offers another method of definitive therapy for infants, children, and adults with certain hematologic malignancies, hemoglobinopathies, severe forms of T-lymphocyte and other immunodeficiencies, and metabolic diseases. The development of universal screening for severe immunodeficiency assay in a growing number of states is likely to increase the number of cord blood transplants. Both public and private cord blood banks worldwide hold hundreds of thousands of cord blood units designated for the treatment of fatal or debilitating illnesses. The procurement, characterization, and cryopreservation of cord blood is free for families who choose public banking. However, the family cost for private banking is significant and not covered by insurance, and the unit may never be used. Quality-assessment reviews by several national and international accrediting bodies show private cord blood banks to be underused for treatment, less regulated for quality control, and more expensive for the family than public cord blood banks. There is an unquestionable need to study the use of cord blood banking to make new and important alternative means of reconstituting the hematopoietic blood system in patients with malignancies and blood disorders and possibly regenerating tissue systems in the future. Recommendations regarding appropriate ethical and operational standards (including informed consent policies, financial disclosures, and conflict-of-interest policies) are provided for physicians, institutions, and organizations that operate or have a relationship with cord blood banking programs. The information on all aspects of cord blood banking gathered in this policy statement will facilitate parental choice for public or private cord blood banking.