Public Education Pamphlets
The SOGC provides the following public education pamphlets designed for patients, clinics and health-care facilities. This material has been reviewed and endorsed by the SOGC’s subject matter experts.
Umbilical Cord BloodWhen a baby is born, his or her umbilical cord is filled with a small amount of blood. This blood contains high numbers of special cells called stem cells. If you choose, this blood can be stored. It will then be used in the future to treat children or their family members with deadly diseases including Leukemia and Lymphoma. Often, this blood can be used to treat children when a donor cannot be found for a bone marrow transplant. Put simply, the blood from your child’s umbilical cord could save a human life. Until recently, this blood with the potential to save lives was simply discarded as medical waste.
- What are Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells?
- Is it Ethical to Use Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells?
- What are the Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Used For?
- What are the Options for Umbilical Cord Blood Collection?
- Donation for General Public Use
- Directed Donation for High-Risk Families
- Private Storage for Family Banking
- What are the Important Differences to Remember with Each Option?
- For More Information
Is it Ethical to Use Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells?The collection and storage of umbilical cord blood stem cells is completely ethical. Recently, there has been a lot of public debate on the collection of other types of stem cells. These cells come from aborted fetuses or human embryos grown in a lab called embryonic stem cells. This debate does not include stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood which are Adult or Non-Embryonic Stem Cells.
What are the Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Used For?Stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat a wide variety of blood, bone, genetic, and immune system diseases in children, including:
- Adrenoleukodystrophy (a degenerative brain disease)
- Krabbe’s Disease (genetic brain disease)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
What are the Options for Umbilical Cord Blood Collection?If you choose to collect your child’s umbilical cord blood, there are a number of options available. There is absolutely no health risk associated with collection, and the process does not interfere with childbirth in any way. Usually, collection takes less than ten minutes. You will be asked to provide some health information, similar to what would be required when donating regular blood.
Donation for General Public UseMost healthy women, 18 years of age or older, who undergo a complication-free pregnancy can donate their child’s umbilical cord blood. Exceptions to donation of umbilical cord blood include:
Directed Donation for High-Risk FamiliesThe cord blood may be stored at a public or with some private cord blood banks for specific use by the child or family member when:
Private Storage for Family BankingYou can also choose to store your child’s umbilical cord blood in a private cord blood bank. If you or your children ever need access to the cord blood, it will be there for your use only. It is not available to the general public. This service costs money and has a yearly storage fee.
- Donated stem cells for general public use may not be available to you or a family member.
- The chance you will use the stem cells in private storage is very low.
For More InformationFor more information, please consult your health care provider or view the SOGC's clinical practice guideline: