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Cord blood banking: what are the real issues?
  1. S Chan
  1. Correspondence to:
 S Chan
 c/o Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Law, Williamson Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK;sarah.chan{at}manchester.ac.uk

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More impetus needs to be placed on cord blood donation

In July, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released a report on the uses and the potential perils of umbilical cord blood collection.1 This report has had the positive effect of drawing attention to what has hitherto been an under addressed topic of medical research and ethics. However, the focus and recommendations of the report say little about one important aspect of cord blood usage—research. Such an omission, although understandable from an organisation primarily concerned with maternal and neonatal health, may nevertheless have implications for the broader applicability of the report’s recommendations, outside the immediate arena of patient care.

The RCOG report deals with various aspects of cord blood collection and use—the harvesting procedure itself; cord blood transplantation treatment, either as an autologous cell transplant or as a donation for community use; and whether cord blood banking for personal use should be permitted or encouraged as a privately funded commercial enterprise. It also makes note of some of the legal and ethical issues surrounding cord blood and tissue banking more generally, concerns that will be of increasing importance as more biobanks are established worldwide. A large part of the report deals with concerns on neonatal and maternal safety and whether cord blood collection may pose a risk. These concerns may be valid and certainly, the health of mothers and children should not be compromised. The guidance provided by this report in relation to the collection procedure will undoubtedly assist maternity health professionals in this area.

The main relevance of the RCOG …

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