Five Things to Know about Cord Blood Banking
July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month. Many of us have heard of cord blood banking, but most people are not aware of what it actually means and the intended usage.
Cord blood banking is the process of preserving the newborn’s stem cells found in the blood of the umbilical cord and the placenta. Once a baby is born, the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta contain valuable stem cells that can be used for future medical purposes. Here are 5 things you should know about cord blood banking:
- Cord blood is collected after the baby has been delivered and the cord has been clamped. It does not cause pain or harm to the baby or mother. Cord blood collection can also be done after a delayed cord clamping, which is a procedure adopted by many hospitals today, allowing much of the blood in the umbilical cord to return to the baby prior to the cord being clamped.
- Parents can choose between private and public cord blood banks. Private banking means only the baby and the immediate family have access to use the cord blood. Private baking typically costs the parents $1,200 to $2,000 for the first year, and typically has an annual storage fee around $125. Public banking is free, but means anyone can use the cord blood. The bank makes approximately $30,000 per stem cell transplant. Public banks may sell stem cells for research purposes. This may also include patients receiving stem cells in clinical trials.
- There are two modes of treatment for using stem cells: First, allogeneic is when the patient receives stem cells from a matching donor, either a sibling or an unrelated donor. When parents donate to a public bank, they are supporting patients all around the world that are looking for an allogeneic stem cell match. Second, autologous is when the patient receives their own stem cells. When parents save a child’s cord blood within a family bank, they are reserving the option for the baby to use his or her own stem cells for an autologous treatment in the future.
- Cord blood is often used today as a substitute for bone marrow in stem cell transplants. In the United States, most insurance companies will pay for a stem cell transplant if it is a “standard therapy” for the patient’s diagnosis. Some of the diseases that stem cell therapy is considered standard therapy for includes: Leukemias, Myleodysplastic Syndromes, Lymphomas, and other disorders of blood cell proliferation. There are many other diseases and disorders that are using stem cell treatments through clinical trials: Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s, various autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular problems such as heart failure and heart attacks, diabetes, liver and kidney failure, along with many others.
- Most mothers are eligible for cord blood banking. In order to donate, the mother must contact the bank she plans to use. Many banks will supply her with a mail-in kit, the provider will use immediately after birth to collect the cord blood. She should register by 34 weeks of pregnancy. There is also a health screening that may be completed.
If cord blood banking is something you are interested in doing, please discuss your options with your Ob/GYN provider to find a cord blood bank that is right for you. You can also access more info on the web at:
- Cord Blood Association: http://www.cb-association.org/who-we-are
- Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation: https://parentsguidecordblood.org
- American College of Ob/GYNs: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Cord-Blood-Banking