What You Should Know About Cord Blood Banking

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Currently, stem cells are at the forefront of the most revolutionary areas of medicine today. Doctors recognise that stem cells have the potential in helping in the treatment of various diseases by generating healthy tissue and new cells.

As a parent, you want to provide protection to your family. At your baby’s birth, you have the opportunity to safeguard the health of your loved ones by storing his/her precious umbilical cord stem cells.

What is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood from the baby that is left in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth. It contains special cells known as hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat some types of diseases.

Why is Cord Blood Saved?

The blood that flows through the umbilical cord and placenta has a high concentration of stem cells. Stem cells develop and then become mature blood cells including:

  • platelets
  • red blood cells
  • white blood cells

Stem cells are an essential treatment for many diseases, including blood disorders, cancer, genetic and metabolic diseases. For many patients, the umbilical cord stem cells are life-saving.

How is Cord Blood Collected?

Cord blood is collected by the staff at the hospital where you give birth or your obstetrician. Not all hospitals offer this service. Some charge a separate fee that may or may not be covered by your insurance.

The process that is used to collect cord blood is painless and simple. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is then cut and clamped. Blood is drawn from the cord using a needle that has a bag attached. This process takes about 10 minutes.

How is Cord Blood Stored?

The 2 Types of Banks that Store Cord Blood are:

Private banks: These banks store cord blood for personal use by the family. But, the cost for long-term storage can be very high.

Public banks: These process and store umbilical cord blood donations for research or public use. Once donated, it is unlikely that the cord blood will be available for your future private use. But, there are no storage fees. Mothers donate their baby’s cord blood to public banks in order to help other people.

What are the Steps Needed to be Done Before Cord Blood is Collected?

Certain steps must be done beforehand:

  • The mother’s blood must be tested and a family medical history must be provided.
  • The bank must be notified and the collection kit must be obtained in advance (usually 6 weeks or more) of your due date. Some hospitals have collection kits on hand, while others do not.
  • Consent must be given before your labor begins.
  • When your choice is a private bank, you will sign a contract and then pay a fee before the baby is born.

What are the Problems that Can Happen During Cord Blood Collection?

Sometimes, not enough cord blood can be collected. This problem can happen if it is decided to delay clamping of the umbilical cord or if the baby is preterm. Also, this can happen for no apparent reason.

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If an emergency happens during delivery, priority is given to caring for you and your baby over collecting the cord blood.

What Should You Think About When Deciding to Donate or Store Cord Blood?

Think about the points below when making your choice:

  • Only some hospitals collect cord blood for storage in what is known as public banks.
  • Donating cord blood to a public bank adds to the supply, and therefore, can potentially help others. Donating to a public bank is important for ethnic minorities, and those who are not well represented in cord blood banks. Public cord blood donation increases the chance of all groups in finding a match.
  • If you already have a child with a medical condition that may be helped by a cord blood transplant, then donating a biological sibling’s cord blood for directed donation is therefore encouraged.
  • If you decide to store cord blood in a private bank, first, find out the total cost, including charges for collecting and processing the cord blood and the annual storage fees.
  • Storing your child’s stem cells in a private bank as “insurance” against future disease is not recommended.

If You Decide to Donate:

Many researchers and doctors support saving umbilical cord blood. Most of us would have little use for stem cells now, but, the researches into using them for treating diseases is ongoing, and the future looks promising.

If you want to donate your child’s umbilical cord blood, contact the hospital or birthing center where your baby will be born or talk to your health care provider. It is best to start the process early in your pregnancy, in order for you to have time to understand and explore your options.

How Much Does Cord Blood Banking Cost?

As much as most parents would like to bank their babies’ cord blood to help in safeguarding their families, it is often the cost of cord blood banking that is the main reason why they do not.

Most cord blood banks have an upfront fee for the collection, processing and cryo-preserving of the cord blood, and this runs between $1,000 to $2,000. This upfront fee often includes the price of the kit provided for the collection and safe transportation of the cord blood, the testing of the mother’s blood for any infectious diseases, the medical courier service used to expedite the kit’s safe shipment, the testing of the baby’s blood for any contamination, and the cost of the first full year of storage. Then, there is often a yearly fee on the baby’s birthday for continued storage that runs around $100-$200 per year.

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Kids Health
Cord Life

photo credit: pixabay

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