Cord blood storage is a relatively new practice that many parents are choosing to do for a variety of different reasons. Cord blood refers to umbilical cord blood and it is stored for the valuable stem cells that are locked inside.
The process to extract cord blood consists of nothing more than inserting a needle and extracting the blood after the baby is born. It doesn’t cause any more stress than when the cord is cut, and the standard ‘stem cell’ ethical issues aren’t an issue, either. The potential value of cord blood storage is quite significant.
The stem cells found in umbilical cord blood are able to replicate all the different cells in the body, and even though the science is new, it can be used to treat a variety of different diseases. Some of the health conditions that make cord blood storage a valuable idea include leukemia, various immune diseases and disorders, sickle cell anemia, Hodgkin’s disease, Krabbe disease and Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Whether you bank cord blood privately or send it to a public bank, it can be used for these diseases. Also, the research continues on so it’s very likely that more health issues will be added to this list in the future. And when the blood is used to treat the donor, there is no fear of rejection because the blood is a perfect match.
Blood transfusion is another example of the potential value of cord blood storage. If someone requires a blood transfusion for whatever reason, rejection is one of the main issues that prevents it from being successful. When cord blood is used for a transfusion, that usually isn’t an issue.
Even if the blood isn’t your own, the stem cells typically aren’t mature enough for the body to see them as invaders, so they won’t be attacked in the same way that stem cells from bone marrow are a lot of the time. The extraction of cord blood stem cells is also a lot less invasive and painful than when it comes from bone marrow.
The Unknown Factor
It’s always wise to keep the unknown factor in mind when considering cord blood storage. The list of diseases and disorders that cord blood can treat is sure to change as research continues, but you only have one chance to save the blood. Cord blood that is not stored is just discarded, so if you feel that you may want it in the future, make the effort to have it collected and stored when the baby is born.