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Banking Cord Blood - Yes? No?

Updated on November 3, 2014

Storing Umbilical Cord Blood - Why? How? When? Where?

Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after the birth of your baby. It is only collected after your baby is born and after the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut.

This means that the blood being collected from the umbilical cord is blood that would normally be discarded after birth, so you do not have to worry that it may take blood away from your baby.

Why is it collected? Because this blood is rich in unique and powerful cells called stem cells. These stem cells have the unique ability to be able to transform into just about any type of human cell.

So, what does that mean? When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to

1. remain a stem cell or

2. become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell.

This unique regenerative ability of stem cells make them very powerful healing cells and potential life saving cells for nearly 80 diseases and disorders considered incurable.

Although the current use of cord blood is limited, current studies and clinical trials are looking at using cord blood stem cells for the potential treatment of autism, heart disease, diabetes, cerebral palsy, and others.

Contrary to the use of in vitro fertilization (or embryonic) stem cells, there are no ethical issues using stems cells obtained from cord blood as it would normally have been discarded.

Cord blood banking is the collection and storage of these stem cells for future medical use.

Banking your baby's cord blood is a big decision, so weigh up all the pros and cons before deciding, but don't leave it until the last minute! Have a clear understanding of what it entails and have a plan in place well in advance.

Things You Should Know About Cord Blood Banking

Things to Consider

1. It could be life-saving....but you may never need it!

Since 1988, more than 25,000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide to treat blood cancers and other blood and immune system disorders.But the estimated odds of a child needing a transplant a childhood hematological condition is currently about 1 in 2,700.Over the course of their lifetime, it is estimated to be 1 in 217.

2. Banking your baby’s cord blood isn’t a total insurance policy

Some times a child needing a cord blood transplant may need cells from a donor, not their own blood cells, to cure their disease, because many diseases treated with transplant may already be present in the baby’s cord blood. Frequently brothers and sisters are the best match as donors, so it may benefit siblings. Umbilical cord blood transplants fail about 10 percent of the time.

3. Cost is another factor to consider when deciding to bank or not.

Most banks have an initial fee of approximately $1,500 to $4,500, which covers collection, processing and storage for the first year, plus annual storage fees ranging from $150 to $200. This comparison chart will give you a good idea of costs involved.

4. The number of stem cells may be to small

For it to be used in a transplant, the cord blood unit must be large enough (have enough blood-forming cells) and be free from disease and infection. The crucial thing is not the volume of the cord blood collection, but the number of stem cells it contains.The average cord blood collection holds 8.6 million cells per mL, which may not be enough for an adult needing a transplant.

At a Glance

Cord Blood Information
Cord Blood Information

Cord Blood Donation or Private Banking?

Options to consider

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT), strongly support public over private cord blood banking.

Why?

There have been fewer than 150 autologous (using own cord blood) cord blood transplants in the last two decades. In contrast, more than 14,000 unrelated donor cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.

Private cord banks do guarantee the donor the chance to have perfectly matched stem cells stored for future use and store a unit solely for use by the donor or their immediate family.

But there is only a 25% chance that the cord blood will be a perfect match for a sibling, because each child shares one of its two HLA genes with each parent.

A child's own cord blood (stored at birth), would rarely be suitable for a transplant today. At present, it could not be used to treat genetic diseases, for example, because the cord blood stem cells carry the same affected genes.

As the cord blood collected is usually not enough for an adult needing a transplant, it is unlikely to be useful then either.

If you do decide to do private cord blood banking, then make sure you select a high-quality family cord blood bank.

Publicly or government funded facilities collect cord blood from public hospitals, free of charge to the donor, which is then available for any patient that needs it. This is the story of Anthony Dones who was transplanted for osteopetrosis, a rare genetic disease, when he was five months old.

Currently, the chance of finding a match from the public registry is higher than matching a sibling.

What Does Donating or Banking Cord Blood Involve?

Before your 34th week:

Select and contact the public or private bank of your choice.

Make collection and transportation arrangements between the hospital and cord blood bank.

Sign necessary paperwork and return it to the bank.

Obtain a cord-blood collection kit from the organization.

Before your due date:

Pack your collection kit in your hospital bag.

Read and make sure you know the collection and transportation procedures.

At the hospital:

Make sure your delivery room practitioner is aware of your intention to collect your cord blood.

Have the nurse or doctor collect the cord blood immediately after birth.

Arrange for someone to call the company's courier to pick up the kit.

Source: Dallas News

The Process of Collecting Cord Blood

What would you do with your baby's umbilical cord?

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