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Keywords:

  • Antenatal care;
  • Australia;
  • blood banks;
  • health information;
  • New South Wales

Abstract

Background

Many women giving birth in Australian hospitals can choose to donate their child's umbilical cord blood to a public cord blood bank or pay to store it privately. We conducted a survey to determine the proportion and characteristics of pregnant women who are aware of umbilical cord blood (UCB) banking and who have considered and decided about this option. The survey also sought to ascertain information sources, knowledge, and beliefs about UCB banking, and the effect of basic information about UCB on decisions.

Methods

Researchers and hospital maternity staff distributed a survey with basic information about UCB banking to 1,873 women of at least 24 weeks' gestation who were attending antenatal classes and hospital clinics in 14 public and private maternity hospitals in New South Wales.

Results

Most respondents (70.7%) were aware of UCB banking. Their main information sources were leaflets from hospital clinics, print media, antenatal classes, TV, radio, friends, and relatives. Knowledge about UCB banking was patchy, and respondents overestimated the likelihood their child would need or benefit from UCB. Women who were undecided about UCB banking were younger, less educated, or from ethnic or rural backgrounds. After providing basic information about UCB banking, the proportion of respondents who indicated they had decided whether or not to donate or store UCB more than doubled from 30.0 to 67.7 percent.

Conclusions

Basic information for parents about UCB banking can affect planned decisions about UCB banking. Information should be accurate and balanced, should counter misconceptions, and should target specific groups.