So You're Thinking About Umbilical Cord Blood Banking

There are so many different things that you need to decide while you are pregnant, big choices that affect both your life, your baby's life, and the life of the rest of your family.

When the choices are medical, and involve technology and jargon - such as "Cord Blood Banking" - that you have no previous familiarity with, it can be even tougher to make an informed decision.

The easiest way to go about getting the facts organized is to break down the issues piece by piece.

What IS Cord Blood in the First Place? What Are the Benefits for You and Your Baby?

A Basic Overview and Benefits of Cord Blood

A good and complete overview and breakdown of the benefits of cord blood can be simplified by stating that cells taken from cord blood are considered younger cells compared to those that can be found in an adult's bone marrow. Generally, stem cells which are extracted from a newborn's umbilical cord are healthier. Stem cells of this kind are less likely to be rejected by the body's immune system.

A comprehensive overview and benefits of cord blood are as follows: the method of collection of cord blood is easy and painless; it is less involved compared to bone marrow transplant; and the stem cells can be stored and banked as well.

Also, stem cells are undeveloped cells which are capable of self-reproduction and are capable of transforming themselves into other types of cells. These stem cells are called hematopoietic progenitor cells or HPCs. They can be found both in the bone marrow and umbilical cord.

There are people, children usually, who are inflicted with certain kinds of diseases such as lymphoma, leukemia, sickle cell anemia and many others. These people can be infused with HPC stem cells to cleanse and provide their blood supply with newer and healthier cells. HPC cells also aid the body in recovering from cancer treatments such radiation or chemotherapy.

Cord blood collection is an established and effective source of blood-producing stem cells. In fact, no one questions its life-saving ability.

The Institute of Medicine recorded that HPC stem cells have already prolonged the lives of more than 20, 000 American cancer patients in the previous years, although the majority of this population have mostly undergone bone marrow transplants compared to those who sought for stem cell transplant.

What is Cord Blood Banking?

A general overview of Cord Blood Banking is that it is a scientific breakthrough responsible for collecting blood from a newborn's umbilical cord right after delivery and storing it in a low temperature for future medical use. Umbilical cord blood, which houses an abundance of stem cells, is generally disposed of along with the placenta and the umbilical cord.

Collection of cord blood takes place after normal or cesarean delivery and nurses do not use any other delivery methods to collect the cord blood. Since the cord blood collection is done after the newborn's umbilical cord has been cut, there is no pain or risk to the mother and the baby.

Several scientific experts share the opinion that the whole Overview of Cord Blood Banking can be seen as the best option for families with children suffering from lymphoma, leukemia, other cancers, or other diseases that need transplants. In whatever case, they can offer and store their baby's cord blood in their chosen cord blood program or banks. Cord Blood Banking might also be a good idea if another family member has a condition that can be treated with a stem cell transplant.

Storing and banking your baby's cord blood assures you that if ever the need arises, your baby will have an immediate source of exactly matched stem cells. There is also a great possibility that his siblings can benefit from the stem cells. Collecting and storing your baby's cord blood is important and several clinical studies have revealed that transplants are generally more successful when stem cells are donated by a family member.

Cord Blood Banking Costs and Benefits

The main reason why parents consider storing and banking their baby's cord blood is largely because they have a child or a relative with a medical account of diseases which can't be treated by simply undergoing bone marrow transplant. Several diseases that commonly require a bone marrow transplant include specific types of aplastic anemia, leukemia or lymphoma, severe combined immune deficiency and severe sickle cell anemia.

The possibility that an average baby who is without any trace of risk factors will eventually use his own banked cord blood is usually low; though there exist no accurate statistics as of now.

Cord blood banking costs in a commercial cord blood bank ranges from $1,000 to $2,000 just for storing a sample cord blood, and an annual additional fee amounting to $100 is paid for the cord blood maintenance. You are also charged an extra fee equivalent to hundreds of dollars for the cost of the cord collection and storage kit, courier service fee and the initial processing.

Often, stem cell transplants are conducted only on young people. The body size of a patient determines the amount of stem cell he will need in order to complete a successful transplant. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are not enough to fully supply an adult's stem cell transplant.

Cord blood banks record successful transplants from related and unrelated donors and recipients. It's because blood stem cells extracted from cord blood are young cells, which easily adapts and are less likely to be rejected by the immune system of the recipient. Thus, donated cord blood stem cells need not be a perfect and an exact match to produce a successful transplant.

You Have a Big Decision to Make...

Sure, there are significant costs associated with umbilical cord blood banking. But there can be stratospheric benefits, as well.

You just need to decide what is right for you and your family. Hopefully, the information presented here has helped in reaching the place where you feel comfortable in doing that!