Ethical considerations in umbilical cord blood banking

Nathan S. Fox, Frank A. Chervenak, Laurence B. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pregnant patients have the option at delivery of having their cord blood collected and stored for future use. At many hospitals, they have the option of donating their cord blood to the public banking system for future use by anyone who is an appropriate match (public banking). Patients also have the option of having their cord blood stored for a fee with a commercial/private company for future use within their family (private banking). Currently, private banking is not recommended by major obstetric and pediatric professional organizations. We applied current evidence of the risks and benefits of private and public cord blood banking and accepted ethical principles to answer the following two related questions: 1) Do obstetricians have an ethical obligation to comply with a request for private banking? and 2) Do obstetricians have an ethical obligation to routinely offer private banking to women who do not request it? The only situation where there is a known benefit to private banking is when public banking is not available and the patient currently has an affected family member who may benefit from cord blood therapy. We conclude that when presented with a request for private banking, obstetricians have an ethical obligation to explain the lack of proven benefit of this procedure. If the patient still requests private banking, it would be appropriate to comply, because there is minimal or no risk to the procedure. However, obstetricians are not ethically obligated to offer private banking, even when public banking is not available, except in the limited circumstance when the patient currently has an affected family member who may benefit from cord blood therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-182
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Volume111
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

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