Cord blood banking is one of those things you hear people talk about while you’re pregnant that can make you initially panic. What is it? Should I know? Do I need to know? Don’t worry – it’s actually quite simple! Cord blood is the blood present in the umbilical cord and placenta after you give birth. Some parents decide to store this blood in what is called a ‘cord blood bank’ where the blood is frozen and kept for future use. Why would you want to do that? Well, this blood contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells which means that they are capable of developing into various types of blood cells, including those found in bone, heart, muscle, and nerve cells. This means that they can be used to treat over 70 illnesses that require stem cell transplants.Here is a list of the pros and cons we’ve compiled of cord blood banking to help you decide whether this process is for you:
- Collecting cord blood is harmless and risk-free to both you and your baby. After birth, the umbilical cord is cut and the blood is drained from the cord.
- As already mentioned, the cells extracted from cord blood can be used to treat numerous severe illnesses, including genetic disorders, immunodeficiencies, and neurological diseases, and potentially save someone’s life.
- Cord blood stems can be used to support the immune system of cancer patients.
- Stem cells extracted from cord blood are of more use than those received from bone marrow. This is due to the fact that cord blood does not have to match up with the recipient of the blood as much as is the case with bone marrow.
- Donating to a public cord bank is usually free.
- Storing in a private bank means that you can easily retrieve the donation later if your baby or another family member requires it.
- You and your support system will have to spend a bit of time during pregnancy preparing for the blood donation and collection. Not all hospitals collect donations so research in this regard is required. A screening process is also needed before donating to public banks.
- Not everyone is eligible to donate cord blood, depending on a number of factors such as your medical history.
- Some hospitals may charge a small fee for public banking.
- Storing your cord blood in a private bank can prove very costly, when encompassing both the initial costs and annual fees for storage.
- Cord blood does not offer very many stem cells, meaning adults usually require cord blood from a few donors.
- Some research has found that those who donate cord blood are not able to do delayed cord clamping, which means that your newborn will not have the chance to receive these additional stem cells.
Cord blood banking offers both advantages and disadvantages. In essence, the main benefit is that the stem cells donated may be used in life-saving treatment. However, this process may be too expensive or time-consuming for some families which is understandable. Weighing up these pros and cons with respect to your personal situation will assist you in making this decision.