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New public umbilical cord bank opens while debate continues over public vs. private banking

October 11, 2010

Public or private? When it comes to banking of umbilical cord blood, the choice is far from clear. The debate revolves around whether parents should "privately" save their child's cord blood or donate it to a public cord blood bank. Blood recovered from a baby's umbilical cord may be saved to use for a future stem cell transplant.

Many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, think it "unwise" for parents to go the private route. The National Cord Blood Program estimates that fees to bank blood privately run about $1,500 up front and then $100 per month.

Rather, organizations support public cord blood banking where cord blood is available to all, and  transplants may be used to treat conditions like leukemia and some metabolic problems, according to MayoClinic.com.

Currently, there are only about 25 public banks nationwide. The Baltimore Sun reports on one of the most recent hospitals to open a facility in "Mercy to open first public umbilical cord blood bank."

Still, some parents feel safer going the private route. Staff writer Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times lays out the pros and cons in "Cord blood: Banking on false hopes?"

--Mary Forgione / For the Los Angeles Times

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