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Cord blood is the blood from the umbilical cord and placenta. It’s usually discarded as medical waste after a baby is born. However, a mother can bank her child’s cord blood for future use. This life-saving process is known as cord blood banking. If you’re thinking about banking your child’s cord blood, read on to learn more about this fascinating topic.
What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing your baby’s umbilical cord blood for future medical uses. You can bank your baby’s blood either at birth or after your baby is born as a newborn. Cord blood banking for mothers has become a popular choice since it’s less invasive than other types of stem cell harvesting. With cord blood banking, you’ll never be asked to divert blood flow from the baby to collect it. Instead, doctors will collect discarded blood from the umbilical cord after your child’s birth. Once the cord blood is collected, it can be frozen and stored for future use in children with life-threatening illnesses.
Why Should You Bank Your Baby’s Cord Blood?
There are several reasons why you should consider banking your child’s cord blood. Cord blood is rich in stem cells, which can be used to treat several different types of illnesses. These illnesses include cancers, blood disorders, autoimmune diseases, and many more. If your child develops a life-threatening disease, the stem cells in his or her cord blood may be used to treat the illness. This can be lifesaving treatment. Cord blood is also collected for research. Scientists are studying how cord blood can be used for regenerative medicine. Some conditions that might someday be treated with cord blood include autism, cerebral palsy, and Type 2 diabetes.
How is Cord Blood Collected?
When collecting cord blood, the doctors will cut the umbilical cord before your child’s birth. This saves the blood that would be discarded after the birth and ensures that the blood won’t flow to the baby. After your child’s birth, the cord blood is collected in a sterile bag. The bag is then sealed, labeled, and stored in a refrigerator until you decide to bank the cord blood. You’ll be given instructions on how to safely store your baby’s cord blood after banking. If you decide to collect cord blood after your child is born, the collection process is similar. The doctors will cut the umbilical cord, then collect the blood in a sterile bag. The bag is sealed, labeled, and stored for future use.
Cord Blood Storage Options
The first step in banking your baby’s cord blood is picking a storage method. There are two main cord blood storage methods: private and public cord blood banking.
- Private Cord Blood Banking – With private cord blood banking, you store your baby’s blood in a private blood bank. The blood is stored for your family’s future use only. It’s important to note that private cord blood banks charge a fee for collecting, storing, and processing the blood. You may also incur additional storage fees as your child grows up.
- Public Cord Blood Banking – Public cord blood banking is more of a donation than private banking. After the cord blood is collected, it’s tested and listed in a national database. The blood is available for anyone who needs it. Unlike private cord blood banking, public banks don’t charge a fee for blood collection or storage.
Cord Blood Transplantation
In a cord blood transplant, the baby’s stem cells are used to treat various illnesses. The blood is collected from the umbilical cord right after your baby’s birth, then frozen and stored for future use. The stem cells in the cord blood are an excellent source of healthy cells. They can be used to treat many diseases, such as leukemia and other cancers, anemias, immune deficiencies, and inherited metabolic disorders. There are two ways to collect cord blood. Cord blood can be collected before or after the delivery of the baby. The best method is to collect it after the baby is delivered. During this method, the doctor uses a needle to collect the blood that has settled in the placenta and the umbilical cord.
When Should You Bank Your Baby’s Cord Blood?
Ideally, you should bank your baby’s cord blood as soon after birth as possible. This way, you’ll have more time to research cord blood banking companies and decide which one is right for you. You should also consider who will use the blood in the future. If you have a child with a genetic disorder, it might be beneficial to collect and bank cord blood for that child. You can also bank the blood for a future pregnancy. If the baby is born with a genetic disorder, you can use the blood from the first baby in the second pregnancy.
Who Can Benefit from Cord Blood Banking?
Any child that needs stem cell transplants can benefit from cord blood banking. Certain conditions, including genetic disorders and cancers, can be treated with stem cells. Some examples of diseases that can be treated with cord blood are as follows:
- Genetic Disorders – Some genetic disorders can be treated with cord blood cells, such as sickle cell disease, Fanconi anemia, and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome.
- Cancer – Some cancers can be treated with cord blood cells, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
- Immune Deficiencies – Some immune deficiencies can be treated with cord blood cells, such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), X-linked SCID, and aplastic anemia.
- Injuries – Injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, can be treated with cord blood cells.
The Pros of Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood is much less invasive than other types of stem cell harvesting. You don’t need to divert blood flow from the baby to collect it. Additionally, you don’t need to use any drugs or anesthesia to collect the blood. Cord blood stem cells are usually a perfect match for the baby who donated them. This means you’re less likely to experience complications during the transplant. Cord blood is usually less expensive than other types of stem cell harvesting.
The Cons of Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood banking isn’t a free service. You’ll be charged a fee for collecting, storing, and processing the blood. Cord blood may not be able to treat all conditions. Cord blood may come from multiple babies, which means it’s less likely to be a perfect match. It’s harder to find a match for a child who was born prematurely or has a genetic disorder.
Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells that can be used to treat various diseases. If you have a child who will need a stem cell transplant in the future, you should consider banking your baby’s cord blood. Cord blood banking is a valuable service that’s relatively inexpensive. You can choose to bank your baby’s cord blood after birth or before delivery. To learn more about cord blood banking, speak with a doctor or a representative at a cord blood bank.