Storing umbilical cord blood has come into the news lately as a multimillion dollar donation was made to help fund research at Duke University’s Translational Cell Therapy Center. The gift is intended to further the research of Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg and her work with regenerative medicine and the use of umbilical cord blood according to FirstScience.com.
Importance of Cord Blood
Umbilical cord blood, or cord blood for short, has a higher concentration of blood-forming stem cells than normal blood and is used as an alternative to bone marrow according to the National Cord Blood Program. In order for bone marrow to be utilized as a therapy, it must currently be transplanted from adult patients rather than from a source that is no longer needed once the baby is born.
To date, over 70 diseases and disorders can be treated with cord blood and more research is being done every single day for fighting blood diseases and disorders. Cord blood can also be used in transplants to help organs be more compatible with donors in case your baby needs organs later in life.
Storing Cord Blood
Cord blood is extracted from a baby’s umbilical cord once it has been cut away after birth and is no longer needed. Cord blood is stored at very cold temperatures often utilizing liquid nitrogen. So far, there has not been any deterioration in cord blood cells for at least ten years according to the National Cord Blood program.
Unfortunately, storing your baby’s cord blood is not free and there aren’t many facilities in the United States. Should you save your baby’s cord blood? There are many reasons why and why not.
If your child or even other children in the family need live-saving blood transplants or organ transplants then cord blood has shown promising results. Bone marrow transplants must be extracted, sometimes painfully, from adult donors. Cord blood is used to treat many diseases and research is continuing.
Cord blood doesn’t have to be an exact genetic match for donors. Bone marrow from siblings must be more closely monitored as stated in the National Cord Blood website. You can specifically save your baby’s blood for your family later on in life in case it is needed. You can save your baby’s cord blood specifically for your family and no one else will use it.
Blood and immune system diseases and disorders are most commonly treated. Leukemia is the most common disease treated with cord blood amongst many others.
Storing cord blood is expensive. According to the American Pregnancy Association, initial fees of between $900 and $2100 for the first year and then up to a $100 annual storage fee is needed afterwards. The beginning start-up costs are horrendous but they do get better. Some facilities have payment plans.
Cord blood storage is relatively new and is untested for how long cord blood lasts. Plus the research is also relatively new and has only been studied for about 20 years. However, one facility does boast more than 300,000 units of cord blood stored to date. The Cord Blood Registry has stated it is one of the most secure facilities in the United States. There are also not-for-profit facilities and public storage units that anyone and any patient may have access to if the cord blood is needed for treatment.
Storing your baby’s cord blood is like buying insurance. You may never need it but everyone should have it. Weighing the initial costs versus future gains is always a gamble but when you consider that good health and good health care in the future is priceless then you may think about it more seriously as you go through your pregnancy.
This article is for informational purposes only. Discuss these options with your family and health care professionals thoroughly before deciding to store cord blood.