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Stem Cells and the Family Physician - Editorials
ABSTRACT: Umbilical cord blood stem cell transplants are used to treat a variety of oncologic, genetic, hematologic, and immunodeficiency disorders. Physicians have an important role in educating, counseling, and offering umbilical cord blood donation and storage options to patients. Parents may donate their infant’s cord blood to a public bank, pay to store it in a private bank, or have it discarded. The federal government and many state governments have passed laws and issued regulations regarding umbilical cord blood, and some states require physicians to discuss cord blood options with pregnant women. Five prominent medical organizations have published recommendations about cord blood donation and storage. Current guidelines recommend donation of umbilical cord blood to public banks when possible, or storage through the Related Donor Cord Blood Program when a sibling has a disease that may require a stem cell transplant. Experts do not currently recommend private banking for unidentified possible future use. Step-by-step guidance and electronic resources are available to physicians whose patients are considering saving or donating their infant’s umbilical cord blood.