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    Pediatricians rarely discuss umbilical cord blood banking with parents

    Only 22% of pediatricians speak to prospective parents about umbilical cord blood banking (UCBB), according to a survey of 473 general and subspecialty pediatric providers.

    The 26-question survey, which assessed baseline knowledge and conversations about UCBB, along with the desire for more information about the subject, was conducted during a 5-month period among mostly general private pediatricians (31% of total respondents). Respondents also included medical students, residents, advanced nurse practitioners, subspecialists, hospitalists, and academic general pediatricians.

    The 79% of respondents who did not speak to parents about UCBB most often cited as reasons inadequate education about the subject and lack of opportunity for a discussion before the infant’s birth. Indeed, providers who received formal education about UCBB were more likely to address the subject than those who did not (36% vs 18%). Providers also cited their own or expectant parents’ lack of interest in UCBB as reasons for a lack of discussion.

    Most of the respondents who held conversations about UCBB, usually during the third trimester of pregnancy, were general private pediatricians. Providers who had practiced for more than 10 years were more likely to discuss UCBB than their younger colleagues, and younger and female general pediatric providers were significantly less likely to have such discussions. Among subspecialty participants, those in hematology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation more frequently addressed UCBB.

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    Providers were most likely to mention the potential indications of UCBB for autologous use and less likely to address use for unrelated recipients. Nonetheless, providers generally supported public banking, whereas expectant parents were more likely to mention private banking.

    About 11% of respondents had received formal education about UCBB, mainly during residency, and most thought that UCB cells could be used for autologous transplant in both malignant and nonmalignant conditions. More than 90% of survey participants requested additional information about UCBB and UCB transplantation and wanted a better understanding of the cost and donation process (Armstrong AE, et al. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2018;57[2]:161-167).

    Thoughts from Dr. Burke

    How much do you know about umbilical cord blood banking? I confess to knowing little on the topic. However, as progress continues in stem cell transplantation, we are going to need to be able to advise expectant parents on what cord blood banking can and cannot offer their families. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers some help. In a November 2017 policy statement, the AAP Sections on Hematology/Oncology and Allergy/Immunology outlined what you need to know (Pediatrics. 2017;140(5):e20172695). This helpful reference describes why the AAP prefers public cord blood banks to private banks; outlines average costs of private banking; and explains what advantages, both current and potential, cord blood banking offers to individual families and to communities. 


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