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Acceptability of Stem Cell Therapy by Pregnant Women


  • This work was supported by a Glynn White Research Fellowship to Ryan Hodges from the RANZCOG Research Foundation, Melbourne, Australia.

Address correspondence to Dr. Ryan Hodges, MBBS(Hons), Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow and Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine and the Ritchie Centre, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash Medical Centre, Southern Health, 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, Vic. 3168, Australia.



Cell-based therapies may soon be used to treat disorders in the perinatal period. Our aim was to assess pregnant women's knowledge, attitudes, and acceptance of different types of stem cell therapies.


Pregnant women attending an Australian tertiary center were asked to complete a questionnaire to seek their views on the potential therapeutic use of stem cells in the future. Outcome measures were women's acceptability of different types of stem cell therapies for themselves and their baby, ethical concerns, knowledge, and willingness to use stem cells for different indications.


A total of 150 women completed the questionnaire. More women were happy to use any stem cell type (82%) than placental stem cells only (12.5%), adult stem cells only (2%), embryonic stem cells only (0), and 3.5 percent would not use. With respect to use for their baby, more women were happy to use any stem cell type (83%) than placental stem cells only (13%), embryonic stem cells only (2%), adult stem cells only (0), and 2 percent would not use. Ethical concerns were highest with embryonic stem cells (25%), than adult stem cells (11%), and placental stem cells (10%). Twelve percent of women were very confident and 66 percent reasonably confident with their knowledge, whereas 17 percent understood little and 5 percent reported no understanding. Acceptance of using any stem cell therapy was 75 percent for severe medical disorders, 57 percent for moderate disorders, and 25 percent for mild medical disorders.


Pregnant women are confident with their knowledge of stem cells and overwhelmingly support their use to treat both themselves and their baby. The level of this support, however, is proportionate to the severity of the medical disorder. (BIRTH 39:2 June 2012)