Should you bank your baby's cord blood?
Imagine a substance that could save your baby's life should he or she get sick. Imagine if it had everything your baby needed to fight a serious disease, and, as a plus, it could also help any member of your family that's a match for your baby's blood type.
There is such a substance, and it's called cord blood. Although the technology is relatively new, some people are starting to consider cord blood banking because its benefits are numerous.
What is Umbilical Cord Blood?
Cord blood is the blood that pulses through a baby's umbilical cord. It can add up to approximately 180 mL and normally pulses back into the newborn when the cord is clamped during delivery.
Cord blood banks collect this blood from the cord and placenta and store it until it is needed. Cord blood has stem cells and progenitor cells that can help a sick baby or another member of the baby's family should they need it after the birth. It works by rebuilding the baby's blood to emulate healthy, normal blood cells.
The cord blood would normally be thrown away as medical waste, so the baby is not harmed in cord blood collection and, in fact, is not affected at all by it. On the contrary, this can be an important step in preserving baby health.
Cord blood programs normally begin with the parent choosing to have the blood collected by a private or public cord blood bank. Private cord blood banks are normally not recommended by the medical community unless there's a history of genetic disease or problems within a family. Public cord blood storage is recommended, and the blood is stored for the general public and matched to donors through the National Marrow Donor Program.
Cost of Private Stem Cell Storage
If a parent does choose to go with private storage, costs normally start around $2,000 for collection and $125 for storage. The cells are stored for as long as the parent wants them or until they are needed. However, this is an expensive and controversial venture.
Cord blood donation is looked upon more kindly by the medical community, and the cost for collection and storage is either nothing or a small fee. Many doctors choose to donate their time for this, as they feel that it is important to have a large amount of blood available for people who need it.
Should you choose to bank or donate your baby's cord blood, the decision that you make can affect your baby and the rest of your family for the better. It's a wise investment if your family history includes any problems that require a marrow transplant.