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Human Growth and Development

Prenatal Development-Embryonic Period

Is there a scientific basis to save cord blood following delivery?

During the 1970s researchers discovered that umbilical cord blood was a source for blood-forming stem cells. Blood-forming stem cells are the early cells found primarily in the bone marrow that are capable of developing into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Certain serious illnesses, such as leukemia and lymphoma, are treated with bone marrow transplants to stimulate the growth of healthy blood cells. In situations in which there is a family history of diseases that may be treated with bone marrow transplants, parents may consider saving the cord blood for future use. However, the chances of a child developing a disease that will be treated with stem cell transplants are extremely low. In addition, there is little evidence to support that self-donated stem cells from cord blood are more successful than from a relative or other close match. Furthermore, the cost of collecting and storing cord blood for future use is expensive. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend cord-blood banking for families who do not have a history of disease. Some parents may consider donating cord blood to a nonprofit cord blood bank for research or to save the life of another child.



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