What Is Cord Blood Banking | Basic Things You Need To Know

Filed in Article, Health by on February 15, 2020 0 Comments

Cord blood banking has become more popular over the last few years. And at some point or another, you may have noticed information about it at your doctor’s office. But what is it, exactly, and is it something you should do?

Here’s a basic overview of cord blood banking, who it helps, how it works, and how you can learn more if you think it might be right for your family.

What Is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is extra blood that’s left in a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after the cord is cut. Babies don’t need this leftover blood after they’re born, but it contains cells that could help those who are sick, now or in the future.

Cord blood contains all the same components as normal blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. What makes it special is that it’s also rich in hematopoietic stem cells special blood-forming stem cells that are similar to those found in the bone marrow. These cells can be used to treat many types of diseases

What Is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking is a simple and painless procedure that could save lives. Immediately after birth, cord blood is harvested or removed from the clamped-off umbilical cord. After that, the blood is frozen and stored (or “banked”) for future use. When stored properly, it’s thought that cord blood can last indefinitely.

Though cord blood banking has gotten more attention in recent years, it isn’t new. Cord blood has been collected to treat serious illnesses since the 1980s. And experts are continuing to learn how it might help with a growing number of diseases and disorders from autism, heart birth defects and cerebral palsy to diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Types Of Cord Blood Banks

There are both public and private cord banking options.

1. Public Cord Banks

In a public cord bank, cord blood units that have enough stem cells to be medically useful are tested and given anonymously to individuals who are a genetic match.

Cord blood that is donated to a public cord blood bank, but doesn’t have sufficient stem cells for medical treatments, may be used for research.

If you’re interested in donating your baby’s cord blood, check to see if there’s an option to contribute to a public cord bank through your birthing hospital.

The biggest drawback to a public cord bank is the lack of ability to determine what happens to your baby’s cord blood and stem cells. But there are many advantages to public banking:

  • From a health equity standpoint, public donations have the potential to help more people (through both matching and research) from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Public donations from those of mixed ethnicities are particularly needed and can save lives
  • Public banking is free

Also remember that if your child does need a transplant in the future, there’s the possibility (depending on the disease) that they won’t be able to use their own cord blood stem cells. This is because the disease can also be present in the cord blood.

2. Private Cord Banks

If you desire to store the cord blood in case your child or another member of your family (who is a genetic match) were to become ill in the future, a private cord bank allows that.

But be aware that some companies may make unproven claims about cord blood being able to “cure” certain conditions.

Private cord banks give you control over what happens to the cord blood; however, that control comes with a hefty price tag.

Whatever type of cord blood bank you intend to use, it’s important to do your research to make sure that it follows proper protocols for collecting, transferring, testing, and storing of cord products.

Accreditation from organizations like FACT (Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center or AABB is a good indicator that your cord blood is in good hands.

It’s also important to keep in mind that your cord blood bank options might be limited based on your location or birth circumstances. Private cord blood banks may need advance notice to send a collection kit, so depending on how close you are to giving birth, it may not be possible to use one.

On the other hand, public cord banks don’t operate in all areas or collect cord blood from all hospitals.

What Are The Benefits To Saving Cord Blood?

Cord blood is rich in special hematopoietic stem cells that aren’t found in blood from other parts of the body. Most cells are only able to make copies of themselves. (For instance, some eye cells can only make copies of cells found in the eyes.) But these cord blood stem cells are different. Because they haven’t fully matured, they’re able to develop into different types of blood and immune-system cells.

These powerful cells play an important role in treating many life-threatening diseases. They can help someone who is sick and in need of a stem transplant now or in the near future. They could also possibly help your child or another member of your family if they get sick later on. How the cells are used depends on the cord blood banking method you choose.

What Can Cord Blood Be Used To Treat?

Cord blood stem cells are involved in treating more than 80 diseases. Most often, they’re used in treatments for cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, inherited immune system and immune-cell disorders, sickle cell disease and anemia, and Gaucher disease, but they can also be helpful in treating another immune, blood, and neurological disorders.

Many of these conditions require radiation or chemotherapy, which work by killing harmful cells but also kill healthy cells at the same time. Transplanting cord blood stem cells into patients undergoing those cancer treatments can help their bodies produce new blood cells that can in turn improve their health.

Often, these diseases can also be treated with stem cells from bone marrow. But cord blood stem cells are easier to collect, can be stored for longer, and can be given to more people. They can also help boost a patient’s immune system during cancer treatment — something bone marrow stem cells can’t do.

How Is Cord Blood Collected?

Cord blood collection happens immediately after delivery. After cutting and clamping the umbilical cord, the doctor or a hospital staff member will use a needle to draw blood from the umbilical cord vein. The blood is collected in a bag and sent off for processing, freezing, and storage.

Cord blood collection is a quick, simple procedure that takes between five and 10 minutes. But the decision to collect your baby’s cord blood is one to discuss with your doctor well before giving birth. If you opt to bank your baby’s cord blood, you’ll need to obtain a collection kit from your cord blood bank, which can take several weeks. You’ll also need to have a blood test and sign a consent form before labor begins. Finally, it’s important to confirm that your hospital is able to collect cord blood since not all of them can.

In Summary

Whether or not to bank your child’s cord blood is a very personal decision that may be influenced by a family history of certain diseases or merely a desire to give back through a donation to a public cord blood bank. Only you can determine what makes sense for your family.

Whatever decision you make around your baby’s cord blood, you can rest assured that it shouldn’t impact your labor and delivery.

What’s your take on this? We believe this article was helpful, if yes, don’t hesitate to share this information with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other Social Platforms.

Leave a Reply