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Inside the private umbilical cord blood banking business

The question of whether to pay for storage of a baby's cord blood is now routinely asked of expectant parents in obstetrician offices and hospital delivery rooms. Many states have passed laws requiring that doctors tell expectant parents their options for cord blood: discard it; bank it privately; or donate it to a public bank, which like a blood or organ bank helps people in need. The harvesting and storage of stem cells from the blood of umbilical cords has surged in the past decade to a $4 billion global industry.

But a Wall Street Journal analysis of government inspections and a review of lawsuits in the U.S. found problems in the loosely regulated cord-blood-banking business, including dirty storage conditions, leaky blood samples and firms going out of business.

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