Opinion concerning umbilical cord blood banking

Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics
Date: 2005-06-23


This opinion is the Council’s own initiative and a reaction to the phenomenon of private companies planning to provide parents in Sweden the service of storing stem cells from umbilical cord blood. The service was advertised as a form of biological insurance in case of a serious disease of the child, sibling or close relative that could be cured by stem cell transplantation. In their publicity, the companies also pointed at potential future stem cell therapies.

The Council reviews the concept of banking of umbilical cord blood and its ethical and societal aspects. It proposes that a public biobank for umbilical cord blood is established and recommends that the law on biobanks is reviewed and clarified on specific points. Biobanks outside of the health care sector should also be regulated. The National Board of Health should develop specific information material targeted to parents about the storing of umbilical cord blood.