UC San Francisco researchers compared the private banking of umbilical cord blood against not banking the blood at all. Their conclusion: "Private cord blood banking is not cost-effective because it cost an additional $1,374,246 per life-year gained. In sensitivity analysis, if the cost of umbilical cord blood banking is less than $262 or the likelihood of a child needing a stem cell transplant is greater than 1 in 110, private umbilical cord blood banking becomes cost-effective."In short, they found that the private banking of umbilical cord blood would probably be a good move only for children with a high likelihood of needing a stem cell transplant. For most children this is not the case.
Staff writer Shari Roan described some of the issues related to cord-blood banking in two stories published earlier this year:
From February: Cord blood: Banking on false hopes? "Stories like young Dallas Hextell's are spurring more parents to have their babies' umbilical cord blood saved to fight potential diseases -- but many medical groups don't recommend private banking."
And the March follow-up: Cord-blood banking: Worth it or not? "New parents have a lot to consider when choosing whether to bank a newborn's blood."
Staff writer Melissa Healy weighed in previously on the stem cell aspect: Stem cell hope, hype.
For more information, check out this pamphlet from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
-- Tami Dennis
Photo: The California Cryobank storage tank in Santa Monica can hold 2,000 units of umbilical cord blood. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times