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Private umbilical cord banking not cost-effective, UCSF research shows
Date:9/22/2009

Private cord blood banking is not cost-effective because it costs an additional $1,374,246 per life-year gained, according to a new analysis by UCSF researchers. The research team also concluded that private cord blood banking is cost-effective only for families with a child with a very high likelihood of needing a stem cell transplant.

The researchers used a technique called decision analysis that tracks hypothetical groups of people and allows comparison of expected costs and health benefits of two alternative strategies (in this case, private cord blood banking versus no cord blood banking). Results of the study appear in the October 2009 issue of the journal "Obstetrics & Gynecology."

Cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord shortly after a baby's birth and has the potential to treat a variety of medical conditions ranging from leukemia to metabolic disorders to cerebral palsy. Public cord blood banks store cord blood at no cost and make the blood available to anyone needing treatment, or for research purposes.

Private cord banks charge a fee to store a baby's cord blood for his/her own possible future use or for a family member's possible future use.

"While there are plausible medical advantages of umbilical cord blood stem cells, many of these benefits are primarily theoretical at this point," said Aaron Caughey, MD, PhD, co-author of the paper, a UCSF associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, and director of the UCSF Center for Clinical and Policy Perinatal Research. "Expectant parents need to understand the true likelihood of their family benefitting from private cord blood banking in order to make an informed decision about this expensive process."

Private umbilical cord blood banking companies in the United States market directly to consumers, at times describing cord blood as a "biologic insurance" for their unborn child, the researchers note. However, a
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Contact: Karin Rush-Monroe
karin.rush-monroe@ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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