Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received promotional item to thank me for my participation.
While I was pregnant with Ethan, my OB/GYN asked us if we had considered cord blood banking Ethan’s stem cells that would come from the umbilical cord. I immediately said no after he mentioned the cost. But then I started thinking that I should probably know more about it if he was recommending it.
What Is Cord Blood?
Did you know that stem cells from cord blood and other sources has been used to treat more than 1 million people? It’s amazing stuff, and you need to know more about it.
Cord blood stem cells are immature cells that can become other kinds of cells that form organs and tissues. These cells are literally the building blocks of the body. After a baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, some cord blood remains in the blood vessels of the placenta and the attached portion of the umbilical cord. This cord blood is rich in powerful blood-forming stem cells.
Cord blood stem cells from the umbilical cord, can be used to treat conditions that may affect your child now or down the road. Cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of more than 80 conditions, including certain cancers, blood disorders, immune deficiencies, and metabolic disorders.
Cord Blood Registry, or CBR, the company that we have all of our children’s cord blood saved with, has established FDA-regulated clinical trials using cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine. CBR has conducted groundbreaking clinical trials investigating serious medical conditions, including:
• Autism: Sutter Neuroscience Institute
• Cerebral palsy: Georgia Regents University
• Pediatric stroke: Florida Hospital for Children
• Traumatic brain injury: University of Texas Health Science Center
Most umbilical cords are discarded at birth because new parents don’t know their value or are not fully aware of their options for preserving them. Less than ten percent of parents choose to bank their child’s cord blood today. I believe it’s simply because information about it may be mentioned to expecting parents, but since it’s a relatively new thing and there’s not a whole lot of talk about it, parents don’t understand how invaluable the cord blood really is.
Check out this mom’s story and why she was happy to have that invaluable cord blood.
How Does Cord Blood Banking Work?
CBR offers the collection, processing, and long-term cryopreservation of stem cells found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns, which is otherwise routinely discarded along with the placenta. You also have the option of storing a section of the umbilical cord as well, which is rich in different kinds of stem cells than those found in the cord blood itself. We chose to do this for all three of our children – we consider it an insurance of sorts; just in case something happens to the kids.
So how do you get the cord blood from the baby to CBR? They provide a kit that is crush-resistant, temperature-protected, and electronically tracked collection kit. This unique kit contains everything your doctor needs to collect cord blood. On average, the transport time for stem cells from the hospital to CBR’s lab is about 19 hours. A private medical courier service with 30 years of experience transports the collection kit. Once you have the baby, there’s really nothing that you have to do except sign off on a form saying that it’s your baby’s cord blood and that you are approving the transport and storage.
And it’s not only your child that could use those cells – siblings, and in some cases parents, may be a match to using the cells in regenerative therapies. You might not need it now, but you may need the cord blood down the line.
Information To Consider When Deciding If Cord Blood Banking Is Right For You
CBR provided some extremely important information that I felt strongly I should share for those of you considering cord blood banking.
• Consider the future: Regenerative medicine is a new approach to treatment focused on promoting normal function in the human body through cell based therapies in which stem cells play a vital role. In fact, many believe that regenerative medicine will revolutionize healthcare. Emerging research suggest that stem cells from cord blood have advantages over other stem cell sources in regenerative therapies. The clinical use of stem cells has grown each year, increasing the likelihood that you or a member of your family could benefit from the newborn stem cells you bank.
• Know your family history: Does your family have a history of illnesses for which newborn stem cells are currently being used or studied? Do those health conditions run in families? If so, you may well benefit from banking cord blood for the conditions treated today, but importantly, for conditions that are currently being studied through clinical research.
• Know your options: The primary options for cord blood banking are to store your stem cells with a family bank or to donate to a public bank.
o Family banking offers parents storage for cord blood stem cells for the family’s exclusive use. This typically includes a one-time processing fee and annual storage fees but gives parents access to these stem cells if needed. Free family banking is available through Cord Blood Registry for families with a medical need. Investigate your options for family banking as not all cord blood banks store cord blood in the same manner or offer the same services.
o Public donation lets parents donate stem cells at no cost to possibly help someone in need. While you may be able to access your donation if you need it, there is no guarantee that your donation will be available to you.
• Talk to your doctor: If you think cord blood banking is something you’d like to do, it is important to discuss it with your physician or childbirth educator. They will help you sort through your options and will also work with you to ensure you have what is needed at the time of delivery for a smooth collection.
You can find more information at www.cordbankingbasics.com, and I encourage you to check it out!