Cord Blood Banking is becoming more and more popular with new parents, and as technology advances, so too does the number of people opting to bank their child’s cord blood – but there are pros and cons to both sides of the issue.
Here, we distill some of the facts around storing cord blood.
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth of a baby. This blood is rich in stem cells and other unique cells, similar to those found in bone marrow. These stem cells are immature cells that can reproduce themselves and potentially convert into other types of cells. The particular cells in cord blood and bone marrow are called hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing cord blood for potential future use, should your child or someone in your family become ill. The collection process is quick and painless for both mother and baby, and is performed by a trained collector, obstetrician or midwife. The cord blood is stored in optimum conditions, which ensure safe long-term preservation.
The only time cord blood (and related tissue stems cells) can be collected is at birth.
Stored cord blood is currently being used in stem cell transfusions in place of bone marrow transplants for many life threatening conditions, such as blood cancers (e.g. leukaemia), immune system and metabolic disorders.
Many parents view banking their child’s cord blood as a type of insurance, if their child gets sick in the future. Cord blood has been used in over 30,000 transplants in the treatment of more than 80 different conditions. Further research is being conducted into the impact of cord blood to treat conditions such as autism, type 1 diabetes, stroke, heart failure, spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy and congenital hearing loss.
The major advantage to storing your child’s cord blood is the ‘perfect match’ – no other source of stem cells can provide this guarantee.
Other advantages include:
Current research is investigating how cord blood cells may provide new therapies for many other chronic diseases, including cerebral palsy, autism, type 1 diabetes and paediatric stroke.
Another trend that is generating much discussion is the delayed cord clamping option. It has been argued that you must choose one or the other. But this is not necessarily the case.
The organisation that collects the cord blood will have their own set of guidelines around how quickly the cord blood needs to be collected, but having to decide between one or the other is not necessarily required. Your cord blood storage provider will be able to provide you with more information around this issue.
New parents often feel vulnerable when they are anticipating the birth of a child and will try to do whatever they can to protect their child. The key to making this decision is to ensure you are informed and that you understand all the details so you can make a decision that is right for you and your family.
If you are considering the storage of your baby’s cord blood, you should ensure you have thoroughly researched the topic, so you can make an informed decision. Your decision needs to be made prior to the birth of your child as this is the only opportunity to collect and store your baby’s stem cells.