Cord Blood Banking
About cord blood storage
Cord blood banking is a hot topic that you're likely to hear more about in the years ahead. Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, which have huge potential in the field of regenerative medicine. Doctors are optimistic that, one day, stem cells will unlock new solutions in the treatment of diseases and conditions ranging from cancer and diabetes to blood disorders and brain damage.
How Cord Blood Storage Works
If you choose to participate in cord blood banking, a doctor, nurse or medical technician will collect the blood left over in the placenta and umbilical cord after your baby is born. The collection procedure does not affect the infant in any way, and is only performed once the umbilical cord has been detached. It does not cause any form of birth injury.
The blood will be cryogenically frozen and transported to a cord blood bank for storage. In the United States, banking programs typically allow for 21 years of umbilical cord blood storage. You can bank your infant's blood with a cord blood registry that will release it in the event that your child needs it for future medical procedures, or you can offer it for cord blood donation to a public bank. This allows it to be used for research and by other patients who need it.
Should You Take Part in a Cord Blood Program?
There are certain situations in which umbilical cord blood banking almost becomes a necessity. For example, if your child or a member of your family has a disease or condition that can already be treated with stem cells, it is recommended that you participate in a cord blood program.
Otherwise, cord blood storage is solely at the discretion of the parents. If you opt for cord blood donation, you will not be charged for the service and your baby's umbilical cord blood may well end up saving someone's life one day. However, if you want to store your baby's cord blood for possible later usage, the service will cost you. Private clinics charge a one-time collection fee as well as an annual storage fee, which you can lower if you pay for many years of storage up front. It's up to you to decide whether or not the investment will pay off in the long run.