Having a child is a life-altering decision with so many factors to consider – will you give birth at home or at a hospital? If you choose the latter, which hospital will you go to? Will you give birth naturally or through c-section? Another timely decision expecting parents will have to make is whether or not they want to save the blood from their baby’s umbilical cord – which is what connects the baby to the mother while in the womb. Research has shown that the blood within an umbilical cord, which was often discarded after birth, can be stored through stem cells banks for the future health of the child. Keep reading to learn why, and whether or not this is the right decision for you.
What is cord blood and how is it collected?
Cord blood is the blood within your baby’s umbilical cord. Unlike the blood pumping through our bodies currently, cord blood consists of undifferentiated stem cells that can grow and become tissues, organs, and blood vessels; therefore, these stem cells can treat many conditions, like blood disorders, rare metabolic abnormalities, and the side effects from radiation and chemotherapy. Healthy stems cells can replace defective cells to boost immunity, and in turn, can heal life-threatening diseases. Cord blood is collected following the birth of a baby, after the umbilical cord as been clamped and cut (usually in two places that are 10 inches apart) by the doctor. A needle is then inserted into the cord to collect 1 to 5 ounces of blood, which are stored in a sealed bag and sent to a stem cells bank. Through stem cell banking, cord blood can be cryogenically frozen for over 25 years. The process takes minutes and is painless for both mother and baby.
The pros of cord blood
Doctors, scientists and industry experts believe stem cells play a key role in the future of regenerative medicines, cell therapies, and treatment. The cells found within a baby’s cord blood are unique – not only are they a 100% perfect match for your baby, but they have up to a 25% chance of matching a sibling. This means, if ever required, there is no waiting for a suitable donor to match with your child and no need to fear that your child’s body will reject the cells. Cord blood is easier to collect and contains 10 times more stem cells than those collected through bone marrow, which is an invasive and painful procedure. Stem cells from cord blood are half as likely to be rejected and rarely carry infectious diseases, unlike adult stem cells. Stem cells banks provide future access to these cells, which can be used to treat over 85 diseases, including leukemia and Fanconi Anaemia. The outcomes of cord blood treatment have greatly improved over the past 10 years, allowing for even more success.
The cons of cord blood
Perhaps the greatest downfall of stem cells banks is the cost – though it is completely free to donate blood to public stem cells banks, private banks charge thousands to collect, test, process and store your baby’s cord blood. Many also charge an annual storing fee. While the cost is worth it should you ever need to access the stem cells, there is the possibility that your child may never need it. The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation estimates that there is only a 1 in 217 chance that your child will ever need a stem cell transplant with cord blood, especially if there is little to no family history of diseases. However, if you believe the cell-based therapy is going to play a major role in the next evolution of the medicine, then storing stem cells from cord blood and cord tissue is a no brainer.
While cord blood may not be able to treat every issue your child might encounter, it can protect your child against hundreds of health issues, and that might be worth the cost of stem cells banks to both you and your child’s future. Contact us for more details.