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Cord Blood Awareness Month: Understanding Still Low, Despite Medical Advancements

July 1, 2009

SAN BRUNO, Calif., July 1 /PRNewswire/ — Despite rapid advances using a child’s own cord blood stem cells in regenerative therapies to repair damaged tissue due to injury or disease, most pregnant women today don’t learn about the ability to save their newborn’s cord blood. According to research published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 3 out of every 4 pregnant women consider themselves only “minimally informed.”

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July has been designated as “Cord Blood Awareness Month” by a society of the American Hospital Association with the goal of raising awareness about the medical value of newborn stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which have been used for more than 20 years to treat nearly 80 diseases. In addition, research studies are underway evaluating the use of a child’s own cord blood to help treat conditions that have no cure today, like cerebral palsy.

One child’s experience exemplifies the growing importance of educating all expectant parents. An in-utero stroke left Chloe Levine with cerebral palsy, causing paralysis on the right side of her body. At a year old, Chloe’s right hand remained tightly closed in a fist, which she couldn’t lift above her head. Instead of crawling, Chloe dragged her right leg behind her.

Because Chloe’s parents had stored her cord blood stem cells with Cord Blood Registry (CBR) at birth, Chloe was able to undergo a potentially life-changing experimental treatment: a re-infusion of her own cord blood. Within weeks after Chloe was infused, “things started happening that she could never do before,” said her mother, Jenny Levine. “Her progress has been dramatic.”

Today, one year post-infusion, the little girl who was nearly paralyzed on her right side can lift both arms to catch a ball. She talks up a storm. And she can run – fast. Two months post-infusion, Chloe’s physical therapist, Dottie Waldo, was shocked at the recovery of movement in Chloe’s hands and arms, saying “I’ve never seen anything turn around this fast.” In fact, Chloe Levine has progressed so much that she no longer needs physical or speech therapy.

“Regenerative therapies using cord blood stem cells are currently being researched for conditions including traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, stroke, type 1 diabetes, heart defects and hearing loss,” said Heather Brown, vice president of scientific and medical affairs for CBR, the global leader in the collection and preservation of newborn stem cells from umbilical cord blood. “Research indicates these cells have demonstrated the ability to go to damaged sites in the body and help induce healing. And the re-infusion of one’s own stem cells back into the body carries no risk of tumor formation or immune response.”

Chloe Levine will begin preschool in the fall. It’s yet another milestone, as Chloe no longer qualifies for special needs services at school. That simple fact is something her mom, Jenny Levine, calls “a joy beyond words.”

“Chloe’s story demonstrates that cord blood education isn’t just a good idea – it’s good health policy,” said David Zitlow, senior vice president, public affairs for CBR. “The Institute of Medicine recommends that all pregnant women should be educated about cord blood stem cells early enough in pregnancy that they can make an informed decision about the options to preserve these valuable cells.”

Recently, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca) introduced HR 2107, “The Cord Blood Education and Awareness Act of 2009,” which supports the Institute of Medicine guidance to better educate expectant parents about their options for donating or banking their child’s cord blood. HR 2107 also seeks to bring healthcare professionals up-to-date on the value of cord blood banking and makes grants available to reach crucial segments of the population, such as minority communities and families with a genetic history of treatable diseases.

About Cord Blood Awareness Month

July has been designated as “Cord Blood Awareness Month” by the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) with the goal of raising awareness about newborn stem cells from umbilical cord blood, which have been used for more than 20 years to treat nearly 80 diseases. Today, medical researchers are using cord blood stem cells to evaluate new treatments for diabetes, brain damage, spinal cord injuries, hearing loss and other regenerative therapies. By providing education about the medical value of cord blood stem cells and the available banking options, Cord Blood Awareness Month strives to empower expectant parents to make informed choices regarding their family’s future health.

About Cord Blood Registry

Cord Blood Registry(R) (CBR(R)) is the world’s largest stem cell bank, focused on the collection, processing and storage of newborn stem cells from umbilical cord blood and ensuring their viability for medical use. CBR is the most recommended family cord blood bank by obstetricians and was the first family bank accredited by AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks). The company has been profitable and cash flow positive from operations on a cumulative basis since 1999. To date, CBR has processed and stored cord blood units for nearly 300,000 newborns from around the world and has released more client cord blood units for specific therapeutic use than any other family cord blood bank. The company’s research and development efforts are focused on helping the world’s leading clinical researchers advance regenerative medical therapies using cord blood stem cells as well as enhancing its industry-leading technical innovations for stem cell collection, processing and storage that optimize quality and cell yield. For more information, visit www.CordBlood.com.

SOURCE Cord Blood Registry


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