|Protecting Expecting Parents from Misinformation
CHORI Scientists Present New Data on Counseling Practices for Cord Blood Banking
CHORI president, Bertram Lubin, MD, and Amanda Yeaton-Massey just presented a poster titled “To Bank or Not to Bank: A National Survey of Pediatricians’ Counseling Practices” at the Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. The presentation was based on a national survey through the American Academy of Pediatrics, which showed that in spite of new recommendations published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, most physicians are still woefully unprepared to discuss the potential benefits or drawbacks of umbilical cord blood banking with expecting parents.
Umbilical cord blood has been shown to be a viable source of stem cells for transplantation of children with leukemia, sickle cell anemia and other disorders. Traditional transplantation approaches utilize stem cells from bone marrow, and require the donor's human leukocyte antigen (HLA) cells to match the recipient's HLA cells, limiting the number of people who can identify a donor and receive a transplant for their life-threatening conditions. With stem cells from umbilical cord, however, exact HLA matching isn't required, making the public banking of umbilical cord blood and their availability to all children in need highly advantageous.
"Public cord blood collection benefits everyone in the world. If you need a donor you have a good chance of finding one because you don't need a perfect HLA match," says Dr. Lubin.
Freedom from needing a perfect HLA match is particularly important for minorities. In African Americans, for example, the HLA type is extremely diverse, making it that much harder to find a perfect match.
As Dr. Lubin points out, "Public cord blood banking is a way to answer the demand for the 10 thousand people a year waiting to find a donor."Unfortunately, many expecting parents know very little about the value and rationale for cord blood banking. A variety of sources contribute to misinformation, including publications and marketing from private cord blood banks that stand to gain financially from convincing parents to bank cord blood with them. Just two years ago, the American Academy of Pediatricians attempted to address this gap in public knowledge by publishing new recommendations for physicians, who would be able to share this information with the patients and families. The lead author of the recommendations, Dr. Lubin was a member of a team that conducted a survey among Pediatricians in order to find out whether or not the recommendations had made a difference.
In addition to the poster presentation, the survey findings will be published in the hopes that the physician community will disseminate the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations on umbilical cord blood banking.
"Ideally, we'd like to see public cord blood banking available to everyone," says Dr. Lubin. "But for now, the most important thing is for physicians to be able to council expecting parents with accurate, unbiased information so that they can make appropriate choices."
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:19 AM