Have you heard of cord blood banking? It’s becoming a common question you may be asked during your pregnancy. Studies show that cord blood banking has many advantages and can potentially protect your little one against several diseases and blood disorders in the future.
Here’s everything you need to know about cord blood banking and if you should consider storing yours.
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood is the blood from the baby that is left in the umbilical cord after birth. It contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat diseases. These young, healthy stem cells can develop into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. In other words, they can make copies of themselves, like a skin stem cell can make new skin cells, and so on.
The blood is collected after birth when the cord is clamped and cut. A needle is inserted into the umbilical vein to collect about 2 to 5 ounces of blood into a sterile bag. The blood will then be transported to a storage facility where it goes through a cryopreservation method and is stored for many years to come.
Cord blood and treating disease
The Cord Blood Registry (CBR) says that cord blood stem cells have the potential to treat over 80 known diseases and disorders. Diseases that are treated with cord blood primarily include genetic diseases, blood disorders, or blood cell-derived cancers like leukemia.
Cord blood has the potential to be lifesaving for someone who has a disease that can be treated with cord blood. However, it will not treat or cure every possible disease that children can develop.
Storing cord blood
Prior to giving birth, the parents are responsible for deciding where they plan to store the cord blood. There are two ways to store your cord blood, privately or publicly.
Private cord blood banks
Private banks allow families to store their baby’s stem cells for personal use or for family members. By storing privately, you won’t need to search for a match from an unrelated donor. Private banks typically send a packet of materials in the mail for you to bring with you during collection.
It is very important for you to do your research and make sure the facility of your choice holds proper standards for the collection, transportation, and storage of the cord blood. There are also costs involved with private banking for collection and storage.
Here are some average costs of cord blood banking:
Banking and Collection One-Time Fees
- Cord Blood Banking: $1,000-2,000 on average
- Cord Blood + Cord Tissue Banking: $2,000-3,000 on average
Storage Annual Fee
- $100-300 per year on average
Public cord blood banks
Public banks are for those not interested in storing cord blood for personal use but wish to donate to help other individuals in the future. Typically, this service is provided at no cost to you after delivery. There are two local public banking facilities that collect, process, and store umbilical cord blood: the Texas Cord Blood Bank and the MD Anderson Cord Blood Bank.
Pros and cons of cord blood banking
In any medical decision, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
- Collecting the cord blood doesn’t hurt the baby and the collection is quick and easy.
- You have a direct blood match if your child or
closefamily member were to develop a blood disorder, cancer, immune disorder, or metabolic issues that can be treated by hematopoietic stem cells.
- For some parents, simply having the peace of mind of having these stem cells is worth it.
- When making this decision, it’s important to think of the financial obligation it brings.
- The likelihood of you using the stored cord blood is small. Unless you have a direct sibling or family member that can benefit from the stem cells after collection.
How cord blood can treat future medical conditions is still developing in medical research. If you have questions or concerns about cord blood banking, speak with your doctor and they can help guide you in making the best decision for your family.