For some years now medical scientists have been aware of the
benefits that utilizing blood from a baby’s umbilical cord can realize. This unique and very pure substance can be
used as an effective treatment in a wide variety of disorders with little
chance of rejection by the patient’s body.
To collect this valuable resource the umbilical cord is tied off
immediately after birth; removing the cord blood takes only seconds and is
painless for both baby and mother.
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells. These are cells that can develop into a
variety of different cell types in the body, depending on need: this is the
true value of cord blood. Should the donor
child later develop a disease, such as certain childhood cancers or autoimmune
diseases, his/her cord blood can be used as part of the treatment regimen.
What’s involved in
To “bank” cord blood the pregnant woman first needs to
discuss the matter with their physician or health care provider. Cord blood needs to be collected and preserved
rapidly after the birth: the collection kit must be available in the delivery
room. Each cord blood bank uses specific
equipment, so making the choice of bank as soon as possible is important. Another decision that moms have to make is
whether the cord blood is reserved specifically for their child or family’s possible
use, or is to be made available for public use as a donation.
Public or private?
Cord blood banks operate both as profit and non-profit entities
and costs vary among those that charge. Non-profit
public blood banks will allow moms to donate their baby’s cord blood, and it
will be used as soon as there is a need for any patient. Most non-profit blood banks charge little or
nothing for the collection. Private cord
blood banks, on the other hand, typically charge for the collection kit, the
transportation of the blood, and a yearly fee for storage costs. The blood that parents store in such a bank is
theirs alone, to be used by their child or family members should the need ever
Uses for cord blood
Because stem cells in cord blood can develop into a variety
of other types of cells, stem cell treatment can be used to help treat
everything from head trauma to several types of childhood cancers. There are estimates that nearly 1 in 16
children may be diagnosed with a disease that can already be treated with stem
cells. While the risk of any child developing even one of these conditions or
diseases is low, if a child should become ill, his or her own stem cells are
definitely the best option for treatment.
That is because there is no chance of rejection by an individual’s own
cells, whereas cells, even from a sibling or a parent, may not be a close
Options to consider
Parents will have to weigh the risks and benefits of banking
their baby’s cord blood, either as a philanthropic gesture or for their own potential
future use. A conversation with a physician
or pediatrician is a good first step. The
doctor will discuss the family’s medical history and suitability for donation
and will also outline the benefits and potential costs of banking cord
blood. Cord blood banking is becoming an
increasingly popular option with many new parents today, medical research
suggests that umbilical
cord blood saves lives.
Disclosure: This post is a sponsored, guest post. The author of this blog did receive compensation for this post.
How Umbilical Cord Blood Saves Lives