Private storage of a baby’s umbilical cord blood costs less than the car he or she will want as a teen, or a semester of college. However, at a time of life when new parents must buy baby furniture, clothes and diapers, the price can seem enormous. 

Most companies charge around $2,000-$3,000 initially and $1,000 per month after that to store cord blood, although companies vary in price.

What Are You Paying For?

Pregnancy ProgressionCredit: Photo courtesy public domain KratochvilParents who want to store their baby’s cord blood, but balk at the price tag should know what they are receiving for their money. Most cord blood companies collect the blood from not only the umbilical cord, but also the baby’s placenta.  The companies collect blood in one of two ways. Doctors either pull the blood from the cord with a syringe, or they elevate the cord and placenta so that the blood runs into a bag.

The blood is then tagged with an ID number and sent to the storage company.  Once the company receives the blood, they freeze it using liquid nitrogen.  The blood is kept frozen so that the stem cells inside remain viable until such time as the family may need it.

When A Bargain isn’t

Although most companies have a consistent price for storing cord blood, a few companies out there offer the service at lower prices. According to CBS News, parents should be wary of bargains offered by smaller companies. These smaller companies may be less solvent than a larger company. Even if a cord blood storage bank offers to store your cord blood for a certain number of years, they cannot fulfill this promise if they go out of business.

Some cord blood banks offer discounts for patients who will pre-pay storage for up to 20 years.  However right now the viability of stem cells is uncertain after 15 years and cord blood transplants in adults is still experimental. 

Additionally, a bank that charges lower storage fees may be cutting their overhead by cutting corners. These banks may not test the cord blood that they collect for contaminating bacteria.

When a Bargain Is

Sleeping baby(81127)Credit: Photo courtesy public domain KratochvilAlthough cord blood banks that charge higher fees say that a lower fee is a sign that you get what you pay for, a less expensive cord blood bank may simply be spending less money on marketing to pass the savings on to the customer. Some banks offer discounts if you bank the cord blood from multiple children, if your family has a genetic predisposition for certain cancers or genetic diseases or if you already have a family member with a form of cancer or genetic disease in which cord blood could be used for a treatment now or in the future.

If you are considering choosing a lower-priced cord blood bank, there are other means to find out if the cord blood bank is reputable or not.

In order to choose a reputable cord blood bank, start your research early in your pregnancy.  The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation is a nonprofit organization that offers a listing of private cord blood banks. This list includes over 200 cord blood banks.

Questions to Ask When Choosing A Private Cord Blood Banking Company

  • Is the bank registered with the FDA?  The FDA regulates all cord blood banks nationally. The bank that you are considering must not only register, but also follow the FDA rules and guidelines.
  • Is the bank accredited?  There are two agencies that offer accreditation to private cord blood banks. These are the AABB, an international blood banking association formerly known as the American Association of Blood banks, and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
  • How does the Company Store the blood? The two most common methods are bags and vials. The AABB does not have a preference, but FACT prefers that the company use bags.
  • Does the bank store for “autologous" and "family" use? Autologous is use for the baby only. Family use means that should one of the baby’s siblings develop a disease, the blood may be used in their treatment as well.  According to ABC news, a child’s own cord blood can’t always be used to treat that child for all genetic disorders, because the blood may contain the same genetic defects that caused the genetic disorder in the child in the first place.
  • How Much Experience With Collection Does The Cord Blood Bank Have? The bank should have experience with collection, transport and successful transplant. The bank’s rate of successful transplant is an indication that the bank stores the blood properly.
  • Is the cord blood bank financially stable and profitable? Do they have a contingency plan for storing cord blood or transferring it to a different bank should their business fail? Are they affiliated with a hospital or research institute? How long have they been banking blood?

Having your baby’s cord blood banked is one way to insure their health in the future. However, if you do not do your research before banking your infant’s cord blood, you could find that you have paid premiums on a bad policy.