In a world of increasing risks and dangers, expectant mothers want to do everything they can to prepare their unborn child for entry to this world. For some, it means baby proofing the house from top to bottom or setting up college funds.
Unfortunately, we often neglect the possibility of life-threatening diseases and therefore fail to take measures to prevent this from happening to our offspring.
A procedure is now gaining popularity in the world that according to Dr. Marra Francis is one of the only two things that you can purchase that are potentially lifesaving.
First is, of course, the car seat, and the other, is what this article is all about, umbilical cord blood banking.
Umbilical cord blood banking is a medical procedure that involves the collection of blood from the umbilical cord moments after the baby is delivered. The blood collected is then cryogenically preserved and stored at a ‘bank’ for a fee.
Private and Public Cord Blood Banking
Here are the 10 essentials you need to know about private and public umbilical cord blood banking:
1. Cord blood is rich in stem cells.
Cord blood is said to be rich in hematopoietic stem cells. These are cells that have the ability to differentiate into different cell types found in blood.
These are useful for replacing sickly blood cells with healthy ones, particularly for people with leukemia and sickle cell anemia. They are also used to treat genetic disorders.
2. The procedure of collecting cord blood is pain-free and risk-free.
Collecting the cord blood usually happens 10 minutes after delivery. The umbilical cord is clamped and cut and a needle is inserted into the cord to collect the remaining blood.
The blood is then tested for diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis and examined for cell viability, nucleated cell count and blood antigens.
After testing, the blood is then shipped to a lab for processing and cryopreservation. Throughout the whole process of blood collection, the new mother can enjoy her newborn baby without worrying if her baby is in pain.
3. Cord blood treats more than 70 diseases.
According to medical literature and clinicaltrials.gov, cord blood can be used to treat leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers, brain tumors and ovarian cancer, bone marrow failure disorders, hemoglobinopathies, inherited immune system disorders, inherited metabolic disorders and so much more.
4. Cord blood banking allows faster treatment of disease.
Aside from the fact that cord blood treats a lot of diseases, another reason that cord blood banking is beneficial to you is its convenience.
Storing the cord blood in a bank makes it readily available for transplant. You don’t have to wait months to find a matching donor. Disease progression is minimized because of early treatment.
Another advantage of cord blood banking over other procedures like bone marrow transplant is that the stem cells are less mature and as a result there is less chance of the recipient’s body rejecting it.
5. The odds of using the stored cord blood are small.
Although cord blood cells are lifesaving, chances are you won’t really have a chance to test its efficacy. That is actually a good thing since it means that your baby is healthy and thriving.
However, the high cost in storing the blood may be too much to pay for an event that may not likely to happen. Another thing to consider is that using your own cord blood may not help if the disease is a genetic disorder because your stem cells will carry the same genetic defect. In cases such as these, you would need a donor.
Yet another limitation is that cord blood is usually used only to treat children because the samples are too small to be used for adult transplants.
6. There are about 500 cord blood banks worldwide.
As of 2015, there are about 500 cord blood banking companies who offer this service to expectant parents. The global cord blood banking services market is expected to reach US$15 billion by 2019.
There is a higher demand for private cord blood banks compared to public cord blood banks, however, public cord blood banks currently contain more blood units than that of private cord blood banks.
The leading players operating in the global umbilical cord blood (UCB) market are Cord Blood America, Cord Blood Registry Systems, Cordlife Group Limited, NeoStem, ViaCord, China Cord Blood Corporation, StemCyte, Cryo-Cell International and Esperite.
7. Cord Blood Banking is a bit expensive.
The price upon enrollment in a private cord blood bank can range between $1000 to $3000 with an annual fee of around $150 for maintenance and storage starting your child’s first birthday.
The company may provide interest-free installments of the enrollment fee for one year.
Some would say though that you can’t put a price on health and peace of mind that you can have knowing you carry a way of saving your little one’s life should the unthinkable happen.
8. Cord blood is still being tested for other uses.
As of now, researchers and scientists are studying how stem cells could be used to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, cerebral palsy and injuries of the brain and the spinal cord.
One can only imagine the millions of lives that will be given new hope should these studies be successful.
9. You can also opt to donate your child’s cord blood.
Another option is to donate the cord blood to a public bank.
Compared to private cord blood banks, public cord blood banking is done for free and you get to help another human being at the same time.
If in case your child needs the blood, you may ask to have it back. Unfortunately, there can be a possibility that the donated cord blood may already be used to another individual.
There are a few public banks as of now but perhaps in a number of years, the option could be available to many parents who don’t have the money to use private cord blood banks.
10. Lastly, cord blood banking is a personal decision for parents to make.
First-time parents often feel pressured to grab every opportunity available to give their kids the best life possible. But remember that at the end of the day, this is your decision to make and not your friends’ or family members’.
Do some research, ask around and weigh the pros and cons of cord blood banking carefully. If you are not comfortable with the cost and the odds of actually using your insurance policy, then don’t do it.
But as a wise mother said, “I’d rather pay for something I won’t use than to need something and not having it because you were scared of the cost.”
It rings true especially when your baby’s life could be at stake.
- READ MORE