Background: In Italy, the law does not permit the setting up of private banks to preserve cord blood (CB) stem cells for personal use. However, since 2007 the right to export and preserve them in private laboratories located outside Italy has existed, and an increasing number of women are requesting this collection of umbilical CB at delivery to enable storage of stem cells for autologous use.
Study design and methods: Since private banks recruit clients mainly via the Internet, we examined the content of 24 Italian-language websites that offer stem cells storage (from CB or amniotic fluid), to assess what information is available.
Results: We found that the majority of private banks give no clear information about the procedures of collection, processing, and banking of CB units and that the standards offered by private CB banks strongly differ in terms of exclusion or acceptance criteria from the public banks. These factors may well influence the overall quality of the CB units stored in private CB banks. Of note, during the period 2007 to 2009, the number collected for autologous use did not create a downward trend on the number of units stored in public CB banks for allogeneic use.
Conclusion: CB is a valuable community resource but expectant parents should be better informed as to the quality variables necessary for its storage, both by institutions and by professionals. Currently, most of the advertising is insufficient to justify the expense and the hopes pinned on autologous use of CB stem cells.
© 2011 American Association of Blood Banks.