Parents warned against risky and illegal blood collections from baby’s umbilical cords
Parents encouraged to make plans for umbilical cord blood collection early in pregnancy
Cord blood collection carried out unlawfully or without proper guidelines could put mum and baby at risk and lead to contaminated samples, warn the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).
More than 140 cases where untrained staff or parents have collected cord blood have been reported – and there’s concern it’s much more common. Incidents include parents collecting the cord blood themselves, or putting pressure on unqualified professionals to collect it using a kit. There was even one incident where blood was collected by parents in a hospital car park.
Cord blood is collected at one of the riskiest times during birth, so the HTA regulations aim to protect mum and baby and ensure that the sample isn’t ruined.
“Collection of cord blood is the same as any other medical procedure: it needs to be carried out safely by trained staff, because collection is not without risk to the mother and baby,” said Dr Shaun Griffin from the HTA.
“It is essential that midwives are able to concentrate on the birth and are not put under pressure to carry out unregulated and unlawful cord blood collections,” added Louise Silverton, from the Royal College of Midwives.
Blood from a baby’s umbilical cord is rich in stem cells, which can be used to treat life-threatening diseases, such as leukaemia. More than 15,000 samples were taken last year for storage or donations – three quarters of which were collected by private firms that charged parents £2,000 for the service.
If you’re thinking about cord blood banking, talk to your midwife early in your pregnancy to check your hospital is licensed. If it isn’t, you might be able to arrange a specialist to collect the sample.
Find out more about stem cell collection on Think Baby.