Cord Blood Banking 101
When your child is born, your entire life will change in a way that is both wonderful and sometimes a bit overwhelming. The journey to the hospital, the delivery, and everything that comes after has the tendency to become a gigantic blur, so it’s important to focus on priorities and take steps that could have the most beneficial impact in the months and years ahead.
Saving stem cells from your newborn’s cord blood is perhaps one of the most forward-thinking actions that a responsible parent can make, especially in an age when scientific research has revealed new ways stem cells can be used to protect your child against debilitating or potentially fatal diseases.
Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which can be used to treat a variety of cancers and genetic conditions that may develop in your child’s body.
Why Should You Bank Cord Blood?
Over 80 different diseases and medical conditions, including leukemia to sickle cell anemia, have been successfully treated with stem cells. Cord blood must be collected immediately after birth, so banking it is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you choose to not have your child’s cord blood saved, it will typically end up in the hospital’s medical waste bin. It’s always better to plan for the future. Choosing to save your child’s cord blood, instead of disposing it in the trash, could end up making an enormous difference in their life path.
How Can Cord Banking Benefit Your Child and Family?
Stem cells found in cord blood in the placenta and umbilical cord are genetically unique to your child. They can be used to treat a wide variety of medical problems for the donor child or for another family member. For example, in the case of siblings, cord blood stem cells are up to twice as likely to be useful for a transplant as compared to stem cells from a sibling’s bone marrow. In the long run, the choice to bank stem cells from your newborn’s cord blood isn’t just the best decision for the child’s future, it could potentially benefit your entire family if they suffer a medical condition that can be treated with stem cell therapy.
Is Cord Banking Right For You?
When it comes to your family, you always need to weigh the risks against the benefits. Luckily, when it comes to cord blood, the benefits outweigh the risks a thousand fold specifically because there are no risks involved with saving cord blood. In general, cord banking is a great idea for any future parent, and specific groups of people should consider the option even more seriously.
Ethnic minorities often experience difficulty finding donor matches, so saving cord blood would be an excellent decision on the part of these parents. The same goes for people who are planning to adopt a newborn, since the child’s cord blood may be their only chance to obtain genetically matched stem cells that can help the child later on in life. At the end of the day, it just depends on what you are comfortable with, but take note that you will always feel more secure knowing that you have kept this option open for your child and your family.
How to Select a Cord Bank
If you decide that cord blood banking is an option you want to pursue, you will need to find a cord blood bank. Use the Internet to thoroughly research your choices. Then, be sure to call the company to speak with a representative. Ask relevant questions, such as their laboratory’s experience and accreditation, the quality of their stem cell collection kit, and the protocols they use to ensure that your baby’s stem cells arrive quickly and safely to the laboratory. In addition, make sure that they serve the area where you plan to give birth. Finally, there is the financial issue. Make sure you know how much it will cost; if you cannot pay the amount up front, ask about payment and financing options. These are all important things to consider when selecting a cord bank.
Clearly, saving stem cells from your newborn’s cord blood is a beneficial decision. Hopefully, you will never need the stem cells for any future medical issues, but if you do, you can rest assured knowing that they are available.
David Cormier is a blogger for Cord Advantage, a leading cord blood banking service.