Public policy initiatives continue to reinforce the importance of educating expectant parents on the value of cord blood stem cells.
In 2005, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a comprehensive report to Congress on cord blood banking. The report contains clear recommendations that health care professionals should provide all expectant parents with fair and balanced education on cord blood preservation prior to labor and delivery, thereby enabling families to make an informed decision regarding their options: preserve the stem cells for future family use, donate the cells for public use or research, or dispose of the cord blood.
IOM study shapes public health policy
Following the guidance of the IOM study, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-129) was enacted. The federal legislation authorized funding for banking 150,000 new units of high quality and genetically diverse cord blood units and directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to contract with public cord blood banks to assist in collection. HHS through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) established the National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) program, which supports the banking of stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood for use in the treatment of patients and research. These cord blood units are made available to physicians and patients for unrelated blood stem cell transplants through the C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program.
The Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-264) amended the number of cord blood units that are to be available from the NCBI from a total of 150,000 to “at least” 150,000 cord blood units and placed new emphasis on actions such as exploring innovations in cord blood collection and increasing the number of collection sites. The act authorized additional federal funds to support the growth of publicly available cord blood units and in meeting the inventory goal to increase the genetic diversity of the supply to improve the probability that all racial and ethnic groups might find a suitable cord blood unit. The statute also required the Government Accountability Office to report on efforts to increase cord blood unit collection for the NCBI.
The IOM Study has helped to guide health policy at the state level as well. To date, 28 states have passed some form of cord blood education legislation, which represents 78% of the total annual US births. The majority of states follow the IOM recommendations. Several other states are in various stages of developing similar legislation to help inform health care providers and expectant parents of all medically appropriate options for preserving cord blood stem cells.
The purple shaded states in the below map have enacted laws intended to help expectant parents, as well as their health care providers, to become aware of their cord blood banking options: preserve for future family use, donate for public use or research, or discard as medical waste.