Your Family's Health and Cord Blood Banking

Cord blood banking is the storage of your baby's umbilical cord blood for future treatment of diseases. Cord blood is the blood that remains in your baby's umbilical cord after the birth. This blood is rich in stem cells that are the building blocks of blood and the immune system. Stem cells divide to create new red and white blood cells and platelet cells. These cells carry oxygen, are used by the immune system to fight infections and aid in proper blood clotting and healing respectively.

Cord Blood Can Treat Many Diseases
Presently, umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used to treat many cancers, bone marrow failure syndromes, immunodeficiencies and blood disorders. Stem cell research companies predict that in the future they will be able to treat stroke, autoimmune disorders such as lupus and diabetes, neurological disorders, heart disease and muscular/cartilage diseases with the cord blood stem cells.

Cord Blood Can Treat the Whole Family
Also, a newborn's cord blood can be used to provide transplants for siblings, parents or grandparents. If someone within your immediate family happens to need a stem cell transplant and you are pregnant, cord blood banking is a treatment option for that family member. Cord blood immune cells are "younger" and so are more likely to match between family members than bone marrows transplants.

Cord Blood and Transplants
Moreover, cord blood also results in less graft vs. host diseases (GvHD). This type of disease rejection is the foremost cause of death in stem cell patients. Cord blood is also immediately available to be used. Other transplant methods may need more time to attain. Autologous blood transplants (that is, using an individual's stem cells on that same individual) will become more common. If your baby should develop cancer as an adult, his cord blood stem cells could prove invaluable. In fact, research is constantly coming up with more diseases that stem cells can treat. Of the diseases that cord blood stem cells treat, there are other treatment options available. Because of the "young" quality of cord stem cells, the engraftment process with these stem cells takes longer and the recovery time can be longer. The probability of an average baby needing to use its cord blood is quite low and the typical amount collected from one umbilical cord is only large enough to treat a child or small adult. Still, it's a good idea if you're worried there may be chances of a treatable disease in your newborn.

What's the Collection Process for Cord Blood Banking?
Once you enroll with a cord blood banking company, you call the company on arrival at hospital. The company has provided you with a kit to give your doctor, with instructions on how to preserve the cord blood. After the birth, the doctor will clamp and cut off the umbilical cord and extract blood either with a syringe or with a bag that draws blood out through gravity. A courier will then pick up your baby's umbilical cord blood and deliver it to the nearest airport. From there it will be flown to the cord blood banking company's labs for cryogenic freezing. Companies charge for the enrollment and processing fee and you have to pay a yearly storage fee. In some cases, companies will offer banking and storage services for free if the expectant mother has a biological sibling or parent with a diagnosed and stem cell treatable disease.

Cord Blood Donation
When you're pregnant, talk to the hospital where you're delivering about opportunities to donate your baby's cord blood. This allows a matching recipient to use your baby's stem cells for a transplant. Most hospitals will provide this service free of cost to the donating family. Remember, however, that cord blood donation is different from cord blood storage: donating means that the cord blood will not be available to your child or your family.

Make Your Choice
You now have some basic information to help you make your decision. If you need further information, click on cord blood banking. Whether you choose the option to preserve your baby's cord blood or not, remember that you only have one chance to do it-at birth. Be ready to decide whether you choose cord blood banking by the 24th week of pregnancy.

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