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Recommendations from Parent's Guide to Cord Blood

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Recommendations from Parent's Guide to Cord Blood
  • Educate expectant parents about all their options for cord blood (Education)
  • Choose a family bank that meets all your national and local regulations, plus has been inspected by an accreditation agency (Lab Standards)
  • Choose a family bank that uses a specialized courier to transport cord blood (Find a Family Bank), or in some countries the family can hire a specialized courier directly (Shipping & Handling).
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What is the benefit of HON accreditation of the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood website?
Health on the Net Foundation (HON) is an international non-profit under the United Nations that is dedicated to inspecting and accrediting medical websites for accurate and ethical content.  Websites accredited under the HON code are committed to abide by these 8 principles:

  1. Authority - Give qualifications of authors
  2. Complementarity - Information to support, not replace physician
  3. Confidentiality - Respect the privacy of site users
  4. Attribution - Cite the sources and dates of medical information
  5. Justifiability - Justification of claims / balanced and objective claims
  6. Transparency - Accessibility, provide valid contact details
  7. Financial disclosure - Provide details of funding
  8. Advertising - Clearly distinguish advertising from editorial content

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What is the role of the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Advisory Panel?
Our panel of scientific and medical experts reviews and approves our educational brochures.  Each member may assist with development of new web content in his or her area of expertise.  The panel is also on-call to answer difficult questions from readers.
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Why is it important to choose a Family Bank that is accredited?
The Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation recommends that parents select a Family Bank whose laboratory has been inspected and accredited by an accreditation agency specific to cord blood banking, as this provides a degree of quality assurance.

In some countries, national regulations hold Family Banks to the same standards as Public Banks, so an independent accreditation is not necessary (Examples: Germany, Israel).  But in most countries the federal requirements for Family Banks are not as strict as Public Banks, and then a voluntary accreditation is desirable.  For example, in the United States the FDA registers and inspects Family banks, but does not require them to have a BLA License like Public Banks. 

Caveat: The process of registering with an accreditation agency and getting inspected can take a year, so it is understandable if a brand new lab does not have an accreditation yet.
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Why is it important to ship cord blood with a special courier?
The Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation recommends shipping with a courier that has a division specializing in "Life Sciences" transport.  This helps to insure that your critical shipment is not misplaced, arrives promptly, and is maintained within the acceptable temperature range during transport from the hospital to the lab.

The first priority for parents to consider is the cord blood shipping time: Once the cord blood is harvested, the blood cells and stem cells gradually begin to die.  Public cord blood banks set a limit of 48 hours on the time between birth and processing the blood for cryogenic storage.  It would be a "best practice" if family banks also followed the 48 hour window.

The second priority for parents to consider is the cord blood shipping temperature:  The standard procedure for transporting fresh cord blood is to keep it within an ambient temperature range of 15 °C (59 °F) to 25 °C (77 °F).  Priority shipping services may guarantee the arrival time, but not the temperature conditions during transit.  The cord blood might get too hot or too cold while sitting in the back of a truck, on a loading dock, or in the cargo hold of an airplane.  A specialty courier with Life Sciences expertise will carry the cord blood in a controlled environment.

Parents can improve the survival of their child's cells during transit to the cord blood laboratory by selecting a family bank that provides a well insulated shipping container and that provides a specialty courier who maintains the shipment within the desired temperature range.  In many countries it is standard practice for the shipping container to have a temperature logger.

In the United States, the post 9/11 security requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) require that specialty couriers can only offer cord blood shipping through those cord blood banks that are registered with the TSA as a "Known Shipper".  Before 9/11, specialty couriers could market their services directly to consumers, and in some countries this is still possible.  Parents should check if a Family Bank offers specialty courier services before they sign a contract.