What is cord blood?
Cord blood is becoming a hot topic in the field of regenerative medicine. Doctors can collect blood from the umbilical cord of a newborn infant and bank it in a public or private clinic; in the United States, this process is overseen by the American Association of Blood Banks and is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is left over in both the placenta and the umbilical cord after a baby is born. Typically, cord blood collection takes place after the umbilical cord has been detached.
The collection of umbilical cord blood in no way harms the baby. Doctors use several methods of cord blood collection; the most common is the so-called "closed method," in which a doctor, nurse or hospital technician punctures the sealed umbilical cord and allows the blood to flow through a collector tube and into a bag. Samples are then cryogenically frozen and sent off for cord blood banking at an accredited facility.
Benefits of Cord Blood Collection
The primary reason that umbilical cord blood is collected and preserved is because it contains stem cells. Umbilical cord stem cells have enormous untapped potential in the field of regenerative medicine, and doctors are rightfully excited about the possibilities. One major reason you should consider collecting your newborn's cord blood is that the stem cells it contains will never be rejected by your child's body. If advances in regenerative medicine continue, your child could benefit from its own cord blood stem cells within his or her lifetime.
Doctors are hopeful that umbilical cord blood stem cells will one day help them treat a variety of serious illnesses ranging from cancer and blood disorders to Type 1 diabetes, heart disease, brain damage caused by trauma or degenerative illnesses, stroke and hearing loss.
If you would like to bank your baby's umbilical cord blood after childbirth has been completed, talk to your obstetrician or staff in the maternity ward at the hospital. This service is, unfortunately, not free at present, as the blood is to be stored at a private clinic for potential later use by the donor. You will be charged a fee for the collection of the cord blood and be levied an annual storage fee by the clinic.