Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

Storing Cord Blood Stem Cells via Umbilical cord blood banking is a cost effective option for insuring your baby's future health. Stem Cell research is leading into new breakthroughs in saving lives and developing new treatments using cord blood stem cells. Therefore, every pregnant woman should consider cord blood banking and storage. The primary advantage is that storing stem cells from cord blood can supplant the necessity for invasive bone marrow. However, this article will explore the benefits and disadvantages of using stem cells in this manner.

Selecting the Right Cord Blood Bank for You

This decision is best made with your midwife or obstetrician. Cord Blood Banking is increasing in importance and they should be able to guide you towards an accredited cord blood banking organisation.

Collecting Cord Blood is Easy and Painless

Immediately after the pregnant woman has given birth, the doctor will cut the umbilical cord and then drain the cord blood from umbilical cord. This is a painless process but must be done quickly in order to capture the cord blood stem cells. Cord blood is very rich in stem cells but it has the drawback of not containing huge amounts of blood.

Before going any further, it is time to look at the benefits and disadvantages of storing cord blood.

Benefits of Cord Blood Storage and Banking

  • The range of treatments eligible to be treated with cord blood include many of them currently being treated using bone marrow transplants
  • Treatments include chronic myeloid leukemia, lymphoid leukemia,myelodysplastic, other tumors
  • Research being undertaken for new treatments using cord blood stem cells
  • Collection process is non-invasive and easy to extract (unlike bone marrow transplantation)
  • Reduced risk of graft to host disease and contamination from samples
  • No donor attrition and product is 'ready-to-use'

Disadvantages of Cord Blood Banking of Stem Cells

  • Cord blood volumes are low therefore unlikely to contain sufficient Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSC) to treat anyone other than a small child
  • Expansion of Haematopoietic Stem Cells in the lab has proved very difficult thus far
  • The cost may prove prohibitive and wasteful for a service that will only really be useful when/if therapies are developed in future

How Cord Blood Stem Cells are Stored

Cord Blood stem cells are separated from the blood cells and plasma in the blood, thereafter they are gradually frozen using liquid nitrogen until they reach a state of cold storage. The difference between private cord blood banking and donated cord blood banking, is that private cord blood is stored at the parent's behest for the future use of themselves. Donated blood is stored in publicly available blood banks.

Private or Donated Cord Blood Stem Cell Banking?

The jury is out on this because the benefits of paying for private cord blood banking are largely in the future. In addition, it could be super-ceded by scientific developments which render cord blood storage as an irrelevance. However, for an initial fee of around $1000-2000 and an annual service fee of $90 or so, the price maybe worth paying for the chance of new therapies being developed.