What are Stem Cells and Cord Blood?
It is a common practice to cut a baby's umbilical cord after it is born. However there is still some blood within the blood vessels of the placenta. This blood is referred to as umbilical cord blood, cord blood or placental blood. Approximately 180 milliliters of placental blood can be harvested at the period of childbirth. Here are some reasons why you should store umbilical cord blood.Credit: learn.genetics.utah.edu
Umbilical cord blood is unique because it has all the essential elements of blood like plasma, blood platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. Additionally, it contains blood-producing stem cells which are similar to the cells found within the bone marrow. Stem cells possess the ability to develop into several types of specialized cells. Due to this significant property of stem cells, umbilical cord blood is utilized for transplantation, rather than using bone marrow cells.
More and more people are choosing to store umbilical cord blood because unlike harvesting bone marrow stem cells, it is much simpler to collect and pose less danger to the patient. Furthermore, the process of collecting placental blood from the newborn will not cause the baby any pain and will not disrupt the birth process.
One other benefit of stem cells collected from the blood of the placenta is that umbilical cord blood stem cells are less prone to rejection by the immune system of the host. This makes it simpler with regard to transplants as well as other uses. In addition, stored umbilical cord blood is more easily accessible than looking for bone marrow donor via bone marrow registries.
There are storage centers that people can pay to have the umbilical cord blood stored. This might be a good idea if your child has disorders or diseases that require a lot of blood or stem cells. The range of fees is from $199 per month for storage up to 20 years. There is one place advertising up to twenty years of storage for a total fee of $1999. This seems expensive to me, but if your child needs the stem cells, the fee is quite minimum compared to the expenses of trying to find a donor. I am not advocating for the storage of these cells. I am just providing the information that you as a parent should consider. Another advantage of storing the baby’s own stem cells is the chance of the baby rejecting, as stated earlier, if far less than if they are from another person. Research with brain injury and Type I diabetes have shown that this can be an effective form of treatment. Preliminary research with stroke, hearing loss, and vision loss has shown from promising data.
The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics discourages the practice of storing for self-serving reasons but does encourage the banking of them for general use. Their reasoning is there are already enough banked prototypes that can be used for all types of people. They refute the argument made by others and this article, that the baby will reject donor types. Their point of view is the basic types of these cells can be used for all people of a certain blood type. There is a lot of research to support this idea. I believe we need even more research.
The National Academy of Science does not disagree with the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics but does recommend that parents be given the information about cord storage to determine if this is right for their situation. About half of the states have now enacted legislation providing application procedures and restrictions of cord blood and stem cell research and applied technology regarding this.
How is Cord Blood Collected?Credit: abcnews.go.com
The process of harvesting umbilical cord blood is performed by an experienced physician or midwife. Soon after the baby is delivered, the cord is clamped and the newborn separated from the cord and transferred from the birthing room. After that, the physician inserts a tube into the umbilical vein so as to collect the blood. The blood is drained into a blood bag.
The entire process usually takes about 5 minutes and approximately 75 milliliters of umbilical cord blood is utilized for storing. After that, the collected blood is sent to the placental blood bank for later use. You can store placental blood in public or private cord blood bank. Family or private placental blood banks store cord blood for later use to treat ailments in the family, while public banks keep cord blood for the use of other people.
An identification number will be given to every placental blood bag. A number of the placental blood banks segregate the cells from the plasma, while some choose to keep them. In the two techniques, the placental blood is first processed and then cryopreserved, this means that cryopreservant is introduced to into the placental blood and is cooled down slowly to -90 Celsius. After that, the placental blood is moved to a liquid nitrogen container having a temperature of -196 Celsius. In this manner, the cells stay alive and stored within a deep freezing condition.
How to Donate Placental Blood
Previously after childbirth, the baby's umbilical cord was discarded because it serves no further use to the life of the baby. Now, rather than discarding it as waste, the umbilical cord can be donated for the use of the public. It should be noted that donating placental blood has no negative effect on the child or the mother. A healthy adult woman who had a regular pregnancy as well as delivery can donate the cord blood of her child in public placental blood banks. This blood can be utilized for research studies. Also it can be utilized for saving an individual who has a life threatening ailment.
Placental blood has several medical advantages. No amount of money is too much to pay for the restoration of health. On the positive aspect, potential technological advances might come up with additional uses for stored umbilical cord blood. For some individuals, it could mean the difference between life and death. If you wish to take a proactive decision regarding your child's health, then you should consider banking his or her umbilical cord blood. Before you take the decision to store umbilical cord blood, you should first speak with an experienced healthcare professional who is well-versed in the newest placental blood stem cell research.