Cord blood is the short term for blood of umbilical cord. It refers to the blood remaining in the placenta and umbilical cord post-delivery. Near or at term, there happens a fetal-maternal cell transfer to help in boosting the systems of immunity of both baby and mother in the preparation of labor. At delivery time, this is what makes the cord blood a rich stem cells source along with other cells in the immunity system.
The first cord blood transplant took place with a five-year-old child in 1988 in Paris who had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia in a severe state. After the treatment was complete, there were no signs exhibited of the same disease. With time, the number of families to adapt it has only increased and for good reason.
Cord Blood Banking: Definition
Cord blood banking refers to the process in which cord blood is collected and its stem cells along with other immune system cells are extracted and cryogenically frozen for potential medical use in the future.
Its importance and use
Cord blood storage and collection has become the new popular trend among expectant and new parents. Being highly rich in the quantity of stem cells, it can be easily transformed into the form of any kind of human cell. That implies that they can be used like a potential treatment method if the same child, their sibling or any other relative falls ill due to certain ailments in later life.
Many critical diseases that disrupt the ability of a body to successfully defend itself like cancer, diseases of blood like anaemia along with some disorders of the immune system can be treated with the fluid of umbilical cord or cord blood. Stem cells so obtained are rarely known to carry any kind of infectious diseases. They have a lower percentage of being rejected than as adults.
Banking of cord blood is an excellent way to preserve the cells that are actually life-saving. They are usually thrown away immediately after the birth of the child. Parents get the opportunity of banking the cells in whichever way they want. There is not debate in the fact that saving the stem cells of cord blood is advantageous. However, the method of banking them is where all the confusion begins as different banks serve different purposes.
The Pros & Cons of Cord Blood Banking
The banking of cord blood is seen as a kind of insurance form against illnesses in the future. But many experts in the medical field do not support the banking practice saying that the benefits related to it are minimal. Here are some pros & cons about the matter for better view towards it:
Pros of Cord Blood Banking:
The blood that is collected from umbilical cord of a baby is in reality the same that they receive from placenta itself. The blood is collected from the area in which the cord is. It is highly rich with stem cells that can help in growing organs, tissues and blood vessels. The cord blood gets utilized to treat diseases of blood such as lymphoma, anaemia and leukaemia along with immune disorders. Usually chemotherapy is used to treat all these diseases which end up destroying the immune system of the patient. So, it will serve as a great alternative for the affected. It keeps their system intact and helps in curing the suffering too. It can also rebuild the immune system.
Nowadays it is also used as a bone marrow transplant alternative. It is much easier for cord blood to match the stem cells containing blood from the other parts in the body. The cells from the blood are said to be less mature as well than the cells obtained from the bone marrow of an adult. So, the possibility of the body of the recipient to reject it is much less likely.
Since, the blood from the umbilical cord is immediately gathered after the birth of the child, it is a really painless procedure, along with being less complicated as compared to the other collection methods of stem cells. Cord blood will remain accessible always if you keep it stored by paying for it in a blood bank that is private.
Cons of Cord Blood Banking:
Paid banking of cord blood is not cheap at all. You will find many companies giving you offers for several services with price tags additionally. The benefits of banking for families that are at low risk and have no recognized history of blood or immune disorders are really not that clear. Unless there is a member in your family with a certain medical condition who can be helped through a transplant of stem cells.
Well-known associations advice against the banking of cold blood in private facilities due to the cost. Many experts have the belief that it is highly unlikely a child might actually need their own blood from the cord for future treatment, especially if there happens to be no known family history related to diseases like sickle-cell anemia or leukemia. There are certain limits in the terms of treatment done using cord blood.
If you do consider banking of cord blood after the birth of your baby, make sure to talk over about it with the provider of health care and look deep into the medical history of your family to see whether the child or family lies at risk of certain diseases. It is a very personal decision. Some believe that potential benefits related to it are very less to justify its cost, or have the delayed clamping of cord’s advantages lost, while others think it is an investment worth the while.
Should You Donate to Public Cord Blood Bank or Keep it for Private?
Banking of cord blood can be an extremely priceless investment. If a donation is made to a blood bank that is public, it cannot be particularly reserved for only your family. However, well-known associations like the AMA (American Medical Association) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend public banking over private ones.
The reasons are such that the public ones are free of cost, make the stem cells readily available to everyone and anyone that needs them, and donation in such a sector increases the diversity and number of units of cord blood available for the patients. The widespread donation made by the minorities will help in the expanding of the pool of cord blood of minority units in public system. That makes it easy for different groups of people to find their matches like the Asians, Alaska Natives and American Indians, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, African-Americans, Hispanics, and people who happen to be multiracial.
If cord blood is donated for use of public, it is first tested for infectious diseases along with genetic abnormalities. If anything out of the ordinary is found, you will be informed thereafter.
In private banking of cord blood, storage and collection costs are pretty high. Less expensive treatments which are effective too might be available. The chances of this blood getting used by the same child is really low. Treatment using the stem cells of an individual’s cord blood for disorders that are genetic like thalassemia and sickle cell are not possible as the same genetic mutations causing the disorders exist in the cord blood as well. Diseases like leukemia may also not be possible to be treated for the same reason.
Top 5 Cord Blood Banks to Buy or Sell Cord Blood
With the options of several banks, it may be hard for one to know which bank to choose. Based on the popularity, reputation, cost, services, and history, here are the top 5 cord blood banks to buy or sell cord blood in the US:
- Carolinas Cord Blood Bank was established in the year 1998 and is among the largest of public banks of cord blood. It is affiliated with the Duke University. Donations of cord blood can be sent in through mail by parents to receive aid financially.
- Family Cord is located in the city of Los Angles and has a laboratory of high quality. It received top ratings from BBB (Better Business Bureau) along with AABB accreditation and has been actively in business from the year 1997.
- Cryo-Cell is among the largest and oldest cord blood private banks in US. Along with two more banks, it has been banking since early ‘90s. It acquired the public bank CORD:USE in the month of June, 2018, continuing its journey in a different sector altogether.
- StemCyte is known as a global therapeutics company of cord blood.
- LifebankUSA is located in New York, Cedar Knolls and has been AABB accredited. Even though it is known as a private bank, they store placenta blood and cord blood for free.
Whether you decide to donate the cord blood of your child or store it in private, make sure to know the medical history of your family. Also, wait for the results of any tests being done. Make wise decisions after doing careful observations and speculations. You may end up saving the life of an individual, whether it is someone related to you or a total stranger.