After giving birth, many parents choose to bank their baby’s cord blood. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing your baby’s cord blood for future medical use. There are many cord blood banks to choose from, so it’s important to do your research to find the right one for your family. This article will provide an overview of cord blood banking, including the benefits and process.
What Is Cord Blood?
“Cord blood” refers to the approximately three to five ounces of blood that remains inside the umbilical cord after the baby is born and the cord is cut. This blood can be collected and stored in blood banks just like regular blood donations are.
Cord blood is different from regular blood, however. It is full of stem cells, the types of cells that can morph into all the other kinds of specialized cells. Stem cells are currently used to treat some blood cancers and other blood conditions like anemia, but research suggests that stem cells show promise in treating many disorders, such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and many others.
Just as regular blood has to be typed and matched between donors and recipients, so do stem cells. Sometimes it’s difficult to find a good match, even among family members. However, a person’s own blood, including cord blood and stem cells, will always be a perfect match for them.
There are other ways to obtain stem cells for research and treatments, but they are complex and sometimes painful, such as collecting bone marrow for transplants. Collecting cord blood at birth is completely painless.
You should also understand that cord blood is different from embryonic stem cells, which are collected from human embryos. Nothing is harmed or destroyed in collecting cord blood; in fact, this process preserves something that is otherwise lost to future use.
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of storing cord blood for future medical use. Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. This blood is rich in stem cells, which are the building blocks of the blood and immune system.
Cord blood stem cells can be used to treat a variety of blood and immune disorders, such as leukemia, anemia, and immune deficiencies. They can also be used to create new blood and immune cells in the laboratory. Cord blood stem cells are a promising new treatment for a variety of conditions, and cord blood banking ensures that these cells will be available when they are needed.
Why Store My Baby’s Cord Blood?
Your baby’s cord blood will not be saved or stored without your express permission to do so. It will be discarded along with other medical waste from your treatment. Cord blood collection is completely painless to you and your baby and will not change your labor and delivery process. It is voluntary, not required, and whatever choice you make, your privacy will be protected.
If you decide to permit your baby’s cord blood to be collected, there are two options for storing it. One way is to donate it to a public cord blood bank. There is no cost for you, and the cord blood is available for the use of anyone who needs it. However, your child will not be able to get it back should there be a future need for it.
Private cord blood banking reserves your child’s cord blood for their possible future use, if needed. It’s also possible to use it for other members of the family such as parents and siblings. There are not always matches between genetically-related people, but there is a much higher chance of matching.
This can be advantageous if your child or another family member develops a disorder like leukemia in the future. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that there is only about a 1 in 217 chance of a child needing a stem-cell transplant over their lifetime.
Because private blood banking reserves cord blood for a specific person, you have to pay for the collection and storage process. So when you make your decision, you will want to weigh the monetary cost against the potential future benefits.
Cord blood can be used to treat more than 80 different diseases.
There are many different diseases that umbilical cord blood can treat, including leukemia, lymphoma, and certain types of anemia. In some cases, it can even be used to treat certain genetic disorders. Umbilical cord blood is a powerful tool in the fight against these diseases, and has been used to successfully treat patients of all ages.
How is cord blood stored?
Umbilical cord blood is normally stored in a frozen state in special containers. These containers are called cryobanks, and they help to preserve the cord blood so that it can be used in the future if needed. In order to store the cord blood, the cryobanks will first remove the red blood cells and plasma from the cord blood. They will then add a cryoprotectant to the cord blood in order to help keep it from freezing. The cord blood will then be placed in a freezer at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius.
How Much Does Cord Blood Storage Cost?
There are two costs involved in cord blood storage. The first is the collection process at birth, in which the blood is obtained from the umbilical cord, stored in conditions that preserve it, transported to the private cord blood bank, cataloged, and stored for future use.
After that, the cord blood bank will keep it for you indefinitely. It is not known if properly stored cord blood ever expires or loses its usefulness. Cord blood banking has been in use for around 25 years, and so far the oldest specimens appear to be fine. Scientists believe that cryogenically preserved cells never expire, as long as the freezing and storage process is done correctly.
Because your baby’s cord blood will be stored for as long as you want, there is usually a fee that will be billed to you each year, although some cord blood banks offer a one-time payment during initial collection that will cover future storage indefinitely.
Typical fees for cord blood banking range from $500 to $3000 for the initial collection process, and $100 to $500 per year for storage. If you choose to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public umbilical cord blood bank, there is no cost to you.
What are the differences between Public vs Private Cord Blood Banking?
Private umbilical cord blood banking is when a family stores cord blood in a private bank for their own personal use. Public umbilical cord blood banking is when cord blood is donated to a public bank for use by anyone who needs it. There are a few key differences between the two:
- Cost: Private cord blood banking can be quite expensive, while public cord blood banking is free.
- Access: With private cord blood banking, only the family who stored the cord blood can access it. With public cord blood banking, anyone who needs cord blood can access it.
- Privacy: Private cord blood banking is much more private since it is just for the family’s use. Public cord blood banking is less private since the cord blood is donated and anyone can use it.
Making Your Cord Blood Banking Decision
Because there are special preparations involved, particularly if your baby’s cord blood is collected for a specific bank, you will need to decide in advance whether you wish to have it collected, and make the arrangements. For public cord blood banking, where the blood is donated for the use of anyone who needs it, you simply have to sign an agreement to do so.
For private umbilical cord blood banking, you will have to choose a provider and make arrangements with them approximately four weeks before your due date. It’s a good idea to consider your cord blood banking options earlier in the pregnancy, giving you time to look at different providers and make a choice based on fees, availability, and customer reviews. You can also ask around among family and friends to see if anyone has used these services and if they recommend their provider.
If you do not decide to choose to bank and store your baby’s cord blood privately, please consider cord blood donation and donate cord blood to a public cord bank, if that option is available at your hospital. Cord blood is a precious resource, and currently most of it is still discarded, unless parents specifically choose otherwise. Even if your baby never needs it, donating their cord blood can save other lives.