Umbilical cord blood, the blood remaining in the umbilical cord at birth, can be collected at birth and be a source of stem cells for a patient in need of a bone marrow transplant. Obstetricians and other health care practitioners are recognized as a patient's primary source for medical information affecting the mother and her neonate and frequently are asked to provide education and guidance regarding options of private and public cord blood banking. As the use of cord blood continues to grow in medicine and research uncovers more potential for cord blood, cord blood banking has become an important resource. The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act has provided funding to expand public banking initiatives in the United States and to create a more ethnically diverse inventory of units. Private storage is not advocated unless there is an identified need in the family such that banked cord blood would offer a benefit. A recent report outlined the challenges of increasing participation and inventory, particularly among minority groups. Obstetricians and other health care practitioners should have a primary role in efforts to increase awareness of umbilical cord blood donation and be involved in initiatives to expand current public banking activities.
Obstetricians have a valuable role in educating pregnant women about options for umbilical cord blood banking and in promoting public banking programs.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Divisions of General Obstetrics & Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Corresponding author: Mary M. Herlihy, MD, 119 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01605; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Disclosure Dr. Herlihy serves as an advisor for procurement and collection of cord blood at New England Cord Blood Bank, Newton, Massachusetts. Dr. Delpapa did not report any potential conflicts of interest.