The nourishment of the placenta and umbilical cord in creating your baby is an amazing thing. With scientific advancements in the field of stem cells, some families are choosing to save their baby’s umbilical cord in a process known as cord blood banking. While the uses for cord blood are evolving, parents are choosing to save the umbilical cord for potentially treating childhood diseases. If you or a loved one is considering cord blood banking, here are some considerations and information regarding the option.
Cord blood contains stem cells, which are cells that form blood. These cells are not yet differentiated, which means they don’t have a purpose in the body. They could become red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells. As a result, they could potentially be used to treat many different types of blood-related disorders. Examples include leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease, aplastic anemia, and other conditions.
If a child develops a condition that affects blood cells in the body, the cord blood could potentially be used for stem cell transplants. These are used to encourage growth of healthy cells.
People have several options when it comes to banking cord blood. First, there are “public” banks where people may donate anonymously. This blood is categorized and stored for potential use for research and for a child who may need it one day. However, the cord blood isn’t specifically stored for your child. If needed, you couldn’t retrieve the blood because it is anonymously stored. Think of this option as similar to donating blood to a blood bank.
The second option is private cord blood banking. This requires paying a fee to a private company that will store the cord blood for your family and only for your family. Sometimes these costs can be between $1,000 to $2,000 to initially store the blood, according to The Nemours Foundation. An additional $100 a year to continue to store the blood is also an example fee.
For some families with a medical history of conditions that may benefit from stem cell treatment, private cord blood banking is an option that has greater potential to be beneficial to a family. Otherwise, private cord blood banking is simply an insurance policy. There is a good chance a person may never use the cord blood. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend public cord banking. This increases the pool from which a person can potentially receive a stem cell transplant.
Parents who choose a cord blood banking option receive a kit they must bring to the hospital. It’s important that an expectant mother tell her medical team that she wants to use cord blood collection before birth. The medical team will extract the cord blood after the baby is born. This can occur either before or after the placenta arrives, which is known as the third stage of labor.