"In 97 percent of all births, these important cells are disposed of as medical waste," says David Zitlow, spokeperson for the Cord Blood Registry. "Every parent needs to know the information to make this choice [about private and public banking] but we should save every cell."
Some doctors say that storing cord blood for private use is most often not useful, and that private banking companies overstate the likelihood that you'll ever need to use it.
Dr. William Shearer of Pediatrics and Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine and Chief of Allergy and Immunology Service at Texas Children's Hospital says that, with just a few exceptions in family history, the evidence doesn't support saving cord blood for private use.
"The chances of your baby's cord blood being used for him or her is much lower than it proving useful for someone else," says Shearer, who encourages parents to donate cord blood to public banks.
Zitlow, however, says that there has been a dramatic increase in both the total number of units released for transplant as well as those for autologous use. "To give you a reference point, [CBR] is currently releasing on average one unit per week for infusion. In 2008, we've had a total of 27 transplants to date. Of the 27, 23 (or 85 percent) have been autologous. The primary uses have been for forms of brain injury or type 1 diabetes," explains Zitlow.