September 1, 2009 -- Expectant parents in Ohio could soon benefit from better information about the lifesaving stem cells in their baby's umbilical cord blood and the options for preserving them if the state Senate agrees to pass a well-supported, bipartisan education bill which was unanimously passed by the House.
If passed, the Ohio Department of Health would be required to provide umbilical cord blood banking information and encourage health care professionals to educate parents about the options to preserve the stem cells. Similar legislation has been enacted in 17 other states, representing nearly two-thirds of births in the U.S.
Cord blood awareness is low despite the fact that stem cells from umbilical cord blood are currently used to treat nearly 80 diseases, and stem cell research is exploring their potential to help treat many more, including type 1 diabetes and brain injury.
"Five years ago, the Institute of Medicine first recommended that pregnant women should be educated about cord blood early enough in pregnancy that they can make an informed decision about the options to preserve these valuable stem cells," said Dr. Mary Laughlin, associate professor of medicine and pathology at Case Western Reserve University and medical director of the Cleveland Cord Blood Center.