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Concepts, Utility and Limitations of Cord Blood Banking: What Clinicians Need to Know

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Stem cell transplantation and cord blood banking have received much popularity among general public and medical professionals in the recent past. But information about the scientific aspects, its utility and limitations is incomplete amongst laypersons as well as many medical practitioners. Stem cells differ from all other types of cells in the human body because of their ability to multiply in order to self perpetuate and differentiate into specialized cells. Stems cells could be totipotent, multipotent, pluripotent, oligopotent or unipotent depending on the type of cells that can arise or differentiate from them. Umbilical cord blood serves as a potent source of hematopoeitic stem cells and is being used to treat various disorders like blood cancers, hemoglobinopathies and immunodeficiency disorders for which hematological stem cell transplantation is the standard of care. Cord blood can be collected at ease, without any major complications and has a lower incidence of graft vs. host reaction compared to bone marrow cells or peripheral blood cells. Both public and private banks have been established for collection and storage of umbilical cord blood. However, false claims and misleading commercial advertisements about the use of umbilical cord blood stem cells for the treatment of a variety of conditions ranging from neuromuscular disorders to cosmetic benefits are widespread and create unrealistic expectations in laypersons and clinicians. Many clinicians and laypersons are unaware of the limitations of cord blood banking, as in treating a genetic disorder by autologous cord blood transplant. Knowledge and awareness about the scientific indications of cord blood stem cell transplantation and realistic expectations about the utility of cord blood among medical practitioners are essential for providing accurate information to laypersons before they decide to preserve umbilical cord blood in private banks and thus prevent malpractice.

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DLN: Conception or design of the work, acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work and drafting the work. Final approval of the version to be published. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work; SRP: Conception of the work and revising the work. Final approval of the version to be published. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work. SRP will act as guarantor for this paper.

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Correspondence to Shubha R. Phadke.

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Narayanan, D., Phadke, S.R. Concepts, Utility and Limitations of Cord Blood Banking: What Clinicians Need to Know. Indian J Pediatr 86, 44–48 (2019).

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