A Word about Stem Cells

A note about stem cell donation and storage

Everybody seems to be getting very excited about the possibility of donating their baby’s cord blood.

What the sites tell you is that the cord blood is waste blood when in reality, the blood isn’t a waste

product and belongs in the baby. Immediate Cord clamping prevents your baby receiving up to 40% of its

intended blood volume. This blood contains red blood cells (to carry iron, amongst other things) white

blood cells (to prevent infection) and stem cells (building blocks for the future, possibly even future


Research is showing that immediate/early cord clamping can cause iron deficiency anaemia which

adversely affects behaviour and development. There are many studies ongoing that show that early

immediate cord clamping can cause harm to babies. Top researchers are recommending 3-5 minutes

minimum before clamping the cord (Andersson 2018, Mercer 2018). The #waitforwhite campaign strongly

believes that we will look back on the period immediate/early cord clamping and wonder what on earth

we were thinking about.

The blood in the cord and placenta is your baby’s blood, please do not give it away and only store the

remnants left in the placenta. Store the blood where it is intended…..in your baby.

There are two types of umbilical stem cell banks. Private and Public.

Public banks

are cord blood banks which will request you to donate your babies cord blood. These banks

refer to the blood as a waste product which it isn’t. The private banks require a blood volume that is as

large as possible regardless of the condition or history of the baby. Delayed cord clamping will minimize

the chances of the sample being as large and midwives report that early clamping is used as standard

without the parents being fully informed of the benefits of delayed clamping and disbenefits of early cord

clamping. The public banks have been reported to have set up desks on labour wards and parents who

attend in labour are asked if they will donate their baby’s blood. It is routine to ask antenatally both in

community and hospital clinics.

Public banks in the UK are NHSBT and Anthony Nolan.

Private companies

are companies who widely advertise and encourage parents to pay to store their

baby’s blood from the cord and then pay a yearly subscription. The concept is that if any baby requires a

stem cell sample in future years to come they will have available stem cells at hand. Parents really need to

do their own research and make a fully informed decision in weighing up the risks of iron deficiency

anaemia and the very rare chance that their child may need a stem cell transplant in the future. Some

private companies will do delayed cord clamping on request but the samples are more likely to be


NHS hospitals are now allowing the companies to heavily advertise the cord blood

company’s services antenatally and intrapartum and the request may be included as

a tick box in your maternity notes. The NHS hospitals are receiving money from the

companies and an MP informed me that the government are happy to encourage this

as a means of generating income for the NHS. The lack of evidence surrounding this

practice and information

giving to parents raises the question of morality and ethics as

well as lack of informed consent. Parents are reporting that whilst they hear about stem

cell donation/storage, they are rarely

given information about delayed cord clamping

or #waitforwhite.

Midwives practicing with the cord blood companies also need to be aware that

the UK Code of Practice states that Midwives should always practice in line with

the best available evidence by making

sure that any information or advice given

is evidence-based, including information relating to using any health and care

products or services and maintaining the knowledge and skills they need for safe and effective practice.

Professor Susan Bewley, Kings College London 

“Parents might ask themselves why take a definite risk with their baby’s health now for the sake of a speculative benefit in the future. Who benefits?”

I’m Lora Willshaw It’s not ‘cord blood’ it’s babies blood that is outside it’s body. It needs to go to the baby. Storing it for future use may cause the need for future use. Denying it at birth is causing problems.
I’m totally against it until the cord is white and it’s taken from the placenta. They can use stem cells from babies milk teeth when they fall out. Donate them. It makes perfect sense. A donation that isn’t detrimental to health. Easily available and an actual waste product. Not something presented as one. 11.07.2019

Georgia Wood I’m currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia and this topic comes up a lot with Expat families. These ‘cord blood’ companies very much prey on the insecurities and the ‘hope’ that one day they can use them. I’ve pretended to be pregnant and have spoken to a few companies myself. They told me they could not do any delayed cord clamping (why would you need to it’s a waste product) and that they could cure autism ?
They’re very unethical and very prevalent in south east Asia. They even pay obstetricians to promote their services. I asked an obstetrician I work with it he gets paid to advertise their leaflet and he said ‘of course not’. His office staff said he definitely does. 11.07.2019

Dr Rachel Reed – Midwife Thinking. Confessions of a Vampire Midwife. (Updated September 2019)


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