BACKGROUND : The relative nucleated cell count of umbilical cord blood (CB) correlates with improved engraftment and survival. This study compares two collection methods to assess CB content, including cell numbers.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS : The Massachusetts CB bank used trained obstetricians and midwives to collect CB in utero before the delivery of the placenta. The banks in California, Ohio, Oregon, and Minnesota used trained American Red Cross (ARC) personnel who collected CB ex utero after the delivery of the placenta. All banks processed CB by RBC sedimentation and volume reduction.

RESULTS : The volume and total nucleated cell count of collected CB before processing, as well as after processing CFU-GM and CD34+ cells, showed no advantage of either method. In utero collections resulted in more rejections of collected units (due to labeling problems, bacterial contamination, clotting, and delay between collection and processing) than ex utero collections. There were fewer medical exclusions after in utero collection.

CONCLUSION : CB can be collected successfully using either the in utero or ex utero methods; both methods produce comparable nucleated cell, MNC, CD34+, and CFU-GM numbers. Bacterial contamination, low volume, clotting, and delay until processing are generally higher with in utero collection.