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Expectant parents in NZ need to know more about cord blood benefits

Expectant parents need to know more about cord blood benefits.

The founder of an international website dedicated to cord blood awareness has called for more education amongst expectant parents about cord blood banking, and launched a new information brochure to help spread knowledge.

“I want all women to understand why cord blood must be preserved and that discarding it as medical waste should be a last resort option,” said Frances Verter, who launched the Parents Guide to Cord Blood Banking in 1998 in memory of her daughter Shai who died from leukemia.

“Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are a medical resource that is increasingly being used to save lives, and our new brochure is designed to ensure that more pregnant women have the opportunity to consider saving cord blood from their newborn for family use or donate cord blood to others who may have a critical medical need.” (There is no public cord blood bank in New Zealand).

Verter said 74% of parents surveyed in the US reported that their knowledge on cord blood banking was “miminal”.

That’s despite recommendations from the US Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences that all prospective parents should be educated about cord blood stem cells early enough in the pregnancy, so that they can make an informed decision with regards to preserving these precious stem cells for future medical benefit.

The brochure has been reviewed and approved by a scientific and medical advisory board of physicians and researchers, and follows the direction of the Institute of Medicine. It can be downloaded without charge from the homepage of the foundation: Click here to view the brochure

The launch of this booklet expands the educational mission of the Foundation beyond the internet to childbirth classes, doctor’s offices and beyond. To date, 16 states have passed legislation to improve the education provided on cord blood during pregnancy, and encourage doctors to take an active role in educating future parents about the options for collecting cord blood.

Umbilical cord blood:

The blood that remains in the newborn’s umbilical cord immediately after birth contains a diverse population of stem cells that have different features and benefits compared with other sources of stem cells. Since blood cord stem cells are immunologically younger than other “adult” stem cell sources, they show greater versatility and flexibility when used in transplantation. In addition, cord blood stem cells have shown the ability to proliferate and develop into all major cell types in the body.

For over 20 years, stem cells from umbilical cord blood have been used in transplantation to cure patients with cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma and blood diseases and immune disorders.

Birth is the only opportunity where parents can collect and bank their child’s cord blood for future medical use or donate it to a public bank.

The mission of the Parents Guide to Cord Blood (PGCB) Foundation is to provide parents with impartial education about medical research and cord blood storage options, and to conduct and publish analysis statistics on medical research or policy developments which could expand the probability that the use of umbilical cord blood.

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© CordBank New Zealand, 2021


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