Parents warned against unlawful cord blood collection

Experts call for safe, regulated collection of blood from baby’s umbilical cords

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Parents are putting untrained staff under pressure to collect their baby’s cord blood and even collecting samples themselves, according to reports by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).

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Collecting blood from a baby’s umbilical unlawfully or without following guidelines can put mum and baby at risk and ruin the sample, warn the HTA. According to reports, parents have been putting pressure on unqualified staff to collect blood using kits and, in one instance, parents even collected a sample 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.

What is cord blood collection?
Cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can be used to help treat life-threatening diseases, such as leukaemia. More and more parents are opting to collect umbilical cord blood for donations or storage, in case their baby may need it in the future. More than 15,000 samples were taken last year – three quarters of which were collected by private firms that charged parents £2,000 for the service.

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If you’re thinking about cord blood banking, have a chat with 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.

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