Cord Blood: Should You Bank Your Baby’s Cord Blood?
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
The procedure is known as “cord blood banking” involves the removal of potentially life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta and the subsequent storage of these cells for later use. Stem cells are undeveloped cells that have the potential to differentiate into various types of cells.
When you have a child, there are a lot of different things you need to consider. The blood that is drawn from your baby’s umbilical cord is one of them (which connects the baby to the mother while in the womb). In the past, the blood was discarded after birth, but these days, many parents choose to save it for their child’s future wellbeing and keep it frozen. Should you go through with it?
What Can It Be Used For?
The fluid that comes from the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells. Cancer, blood diseases such as anemia, and other abnormalities of the immune system that interfere with your body’s capacity to protect itself can all be treated with these drugs.
It is simple to harvest the fluid, which contains stem cells that are 10 times more abundant than those harvested from bone marrow.
Stem cells obtained from cord blood are less likely to harbor any infectious illnesses and have a rejection rate that is one-half that of adult stem cells.
How Do You Get It?
After the birth, the doctor will clamp the umbilical cord in two different places, approximately 10 inches apart, and then cut the cord, separating the mother from the infant. This is done if the blood is to be kept. After that, a needle is inserted into the umbilical cord, and at least 40 milliliters of blood is drawn from it. After being placed in an airtight container, the blood is then delivered to a laboratory or cord blood bank for analysis and storage. The procedure just takes a few minutes to complete and is completely painless for both the mother and the child.
In some cases, the cord blood bank will also send tubes to the mother in order to collect some of her blood. If this is the case, the blood collection tubes and instructions will be included in the banking package.
Where Is It stored?
There are three possible courses of action:
There is no fee for using public cord banks as a storage facility. Any and all donations made are made available to whoever may have a need for them. The cord blood bank may also conduct research with the donated cord blood.
The blood that is donated will be stored in private or commercial banks, and only the donor and their family members will be able to use it. They can come at a high cost. These financial institutions charge a cost for processing, in addition to an annual storage fee.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional organization for obstetricians and gynecologists, neither endorses nor discourages the practice of cord blood banking. However, it joins the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association in advising parents against private cord blood banking. This is why:
The costs associated with collection and storage at private cord blood banks are significant.
It’s possible that there are other effective treatments that are accessible at a lower cost.
There is a very small possibility that your child could benefit from cord blood that was stored privately.
Because the genetic mutations that cause sickle cell disease and thalassemia are present in the baby’s cord blood, it is not possible to use an autologous transplant, which is a type of stem cell transplant that uses an individual’s own cord blood. This type of transplant is also known as an autologous stem cell transplant. There is a possibility that other disorders, such as leukemia, which can be treated with a stem cell transplant are already present in the cord blood of a newborn kid.
There have been little more than 400 autologous cord blood transplants performed in the United States over the past 20 years. This is mostly due to the limitations outlined above, as well as the rarity of disorders that are amenable to treatment via stem cell transplantation. On the other hand, more than 60,000 transplants using cord blood from unrelated donors have been carried out all over the world.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association both advise against the practice of retaining cord blood as a kind of “biological insurance” for the simple reason that the potential advantages do not come close to justifying the associated expenses.
Is there ever a time when storing one’s own cord blood in a private bank may make sense? If a parent was adopted or the child was conceived with the help of a sperm or egg donor, for example, some parents make the decision to store their child’s blood in the event that they do not know the medical history of their child.
Banks that accept donations directly from individuals are a hybrid of public and private financial institutions. They collect and retain cord blood for potential future use. They do, however, accept donations that are set aside for families. There is no payment incurred.
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Should You Bank Your Baby’s Cord Blood?
It is determined by the person you ask. In spite of the fact that commercial cord blood banks frequently market their services as “biological insurance” against the development of new diseases, the blood they collect is rarely put to therapeutic use. According to the findings of one study, the likelihood of a child ever making use of their own cord blood over their lifetime ranges anywhere from one in four hundred to one in two hundred thousand.
Even if the individual later develops a sickness, the blood that has been kept cannot always be used since, in the event that the condition was brought on by a genetic mutation, that mutation would also be present in the stem cells. According to the most recent findings of this research, the blood that has been kept may only be useful for 15 years.
If you are expecting twins, there are a few extra things you should think about. If one of your twins is born with a genetic condition or develops childhood leukemia, the cord blood is likely to have the same code that created the problem in the first place. This is because genetic disorders and leukemia are both produced by mutations in genes. It is not possible to administer treatment to either of the twins or to any other person.
As long as the two patients are a good match, the cord blood cells taken from one of your healthy twins can be utilized to treat the other of your twins or another sick child. However, this advantage is amplified when the genetic makeup of the two children is only slightly different from one another. Because of this, it is unlikely that your identical twins will be able to donate blood to one another in the event that they do become sick. If your twins are not identical (dizygotic), then they have a 50/50 probability of being suitable donors for one another. This is the same chance that any other sibling has. It does not matter if the twins are identical or fraternal; cord blood can be utilized to treat another sibling who is unwell.
Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise against the practice of routinely storing cord blood. The organizations believe that the use of private banks should be restricted to situations in which a sibling suffers from a medical ailment that could be helped by stem cells.
If a newborn already has a full sibling who suffers from a genetic disorder or cancer that can be treated with cord blood transplantation, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does endorse cord blood banking. These conditions consist of the following:
- Immune deficits, such as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID)
- There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s.
- There is aplastic anemia.
- Sickle cell anemia
- Krabbe’s disease
Additional uncommon diseases
Despite this, the probability of a sibling having a perfect genetic match is only 25% for either the brother or the sister. As a consequence, a transplant of bone marrow or cord blood from an unrelated donor may be necessary for a sibling.
If there is a history of cancer or genetic problems in the family that could be helped by cord blood stem cells, the American Medical Association recommends looking into private cord blood banking as an additional option. Keep in mind, however, that in order to locate an appropriate match for any type of transplant, 70 percent of patients will need to look outside of their family.
Donating stem cells to a public bank in order to assist others is something that families are strongly urged to do.
There is one more thing to bear in mind if you do decide to bank your baby’s cord blood, and that is the fact that it is better not to make the decision at the very last minute. You need to make arrangements with the bank well in advance of the birth of your child so that nothing is left to chance.
What the Future Holds
Researchers have high hopes that stem cells may one day be utilized to treat a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart failure, spinal cord damage, and many others. However, no one knows how stem cells may be employed in the future.
It is feasible that keeping the cord blood cells of your child now may be valuable in the fight against these diseases at some point in the future. These treatments are just theories at this point in time. It is also unclear if stem cells derived from cord blood, as opposed to stem cells derived from other sources, will be effective in the potential treatments that are being discussed.