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AAP Opposes Private Cord Blood Banking

But Doctors Group Favors Public Storage Efforts

Public Banking Encouraged

While the AAP discouraged private cord blood banking in most instances, there was one exception.

The group supports directed cord blood storage in cases where an older sibling has a cancercancer or genetic condition that might be helped by cord blood transplantation.

The pediatrics group also encourages families to donate their newborn's cord blood to public banks if they have an opportunity to do so.

Public banks store cord blood to be made available for use by anyone who needs it.

Only a handful of hospitals across the nation currently allow cord blood donation, but this may soon change, says pediatrician Bertram Lubin, MD

Recently enacted federal legislation is encouraging more hospitals to institute programs to allow cord blood donation for public use.

Cord blood stem cell transplantation from unrelated donors has been proven useful in the treatment of a variety of pediatric diseases, including cancers and genetic illnesses. There is also promising research suggesting cord blood could help treat adult disease.

"Combined cord blood from different donors looks very promising as an alternative treatment for adults," says Lubin, president of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, in California.

Disclose Financial Gains

The new AAP cord blood banking recommendations, which Lubin and Shearer helped write, call on doctors and others who promote private, for-profit cord blood banking to disclose any financial gains they derive from the procedure to patients.

Prospective parents who are encouraged by their doctor or anyone else to pay for directed cord blood banking should ask about financial conflicts of interest, Shearer says.

"It is an unfortunate truth in medicine today that financial considerations play an increasingly important role," he says. "That is why patients have to educate themselves."

Lubin says parents who still want to bank their baby's cord blood for the baby's own future use should be very careful about which company they choose.

"I talk to parents who tell me they understand the AAP's position on blood banking, but they say, 'I can afford it, so I am going to do it,'" Lubin says. "I say, 'Fine, but be sure to find a place that does a good job.'"

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