March 9, 2009

Umbilical cord blood best in public bank

U.S. physicians say parents should not bank newborns' umbilical cord blood in a private blood bank unless a family member needs a stem cell transplant.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, reported that of the thousands of stem cell transplants the physicians had performed, only 50 involved privately banked cord blood -- and 41 of those cases were allogeneic transplants, in which blood from one individual was used to treat another member of the family.

Private cord blood banks store umbilical cord blood for personal or family use. Cord blood stored in public banks is made available to unrelated children and adults in need of a stem cell transplant.

Physicians who perform hematopoietic cell transplants in children are well positioned to judge the advisability of private cord blood banking, but their views had never been systematically sought and collected, senior author Dr. Steven Joffe of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston said in a statement.

We found that these physicians have performed relatively few transplants involving privately banked cord blood, and that their position on such banking is generally in line with that of larger medical organizations.

Surveys were sent to 152 U.S. and Canadian pediatric hematopoietic cell transplant physicians, 93 of whom responded. Questions addressed the number of transplants physicians had performed using privately banked cord blood, their willingness to use such blood in specific situations, and their recommendations to parents regarding private cord blood banking.