Parents who are expecting, go through a number of decision-making sessions even before their baby is born. They need to make some vital decisions. These can range from things like naming the baby, choosing a pediatrician, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, and so on. Nowadays they are increasingly being forced to consider whether they need to bank their baby’s umbilical cord blood or not. Being confused is okay. Expectant parents are frequently being notified of their once-in-a-lifetime chance to conserve their baby’s umbilical cord blood through advertisements that come in parenting publications, direct mailings, and even the leaflets in their obstetrician’s office.
You would also think there would be not much of a problem with taking your baby’s umbilical cord blood because it does not hurt anybody and would be discarded anyhow. Also, what parent would not want to do all the possible things to ensure that their child is healthy as an adult?
However, the problem does not lie within cord blood banking. The problem revolves mainly around storing blood for personal use in a for-profit private cord blood bank. Interested parents can also donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood for free to a public bank.
What Exactly Is Cord Blood?
The umbilical cord plays the role of connecting a developing fetus to the placenta during pregnancy. The placenta is an organ found inside the womb of a pregnant woman. It gives a growing infant all the oxygen and nourishment it needs while also removing all waste items from the blood. Blood veins in the cord assist in transferring oxygen and also nutrient-rich blood to the infant, as well as waste-laden blood away from the newborn baby.
Some parents collect this cord blood. The act of collecting potentially life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta and then preserving them for future purposes is known as cord blood banking. Stem cells are young cells that have the ability to take on the appearance of other cells.
When you are having a child, there are plenty of things on your plate that you need to consider. Blood from your baby’s umbilical cord is just another one of them (which connects the baby to the mother while in the womb). This blood usually used to be thrown away at delivery, but now many parents save it for their child’s future health.
Why is cord blood saved?
Cord blood is saved for a variety of reasons. A large number of stem cells can be found in the blood that travels through the placenta and umbilical cord. Stem cells mature into adult blood cells. They also include:
Red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells.
Many illnesses, that includes cancer, some blood problems, genetic and metabolic diseases, etc benefit from stem cell therapy. Umbilical cord stem cells are quite life-saving for many individuals.
How is the collection of Cord Blood done?
After the birth of the baby, the umbilical cord and placenta are usually discarded. If a mother had decided to have her cord blood collected after her baby is born, the health care staff will also do so. They will extract the blood from the umbilical veins into a collection bag using a sterile needle. The blood is then packaged and transported to a cord blood bank where it can be stored for a long time.
The procedures for storing cord blood:
The following are the two types of banks that store cord blood:
- Umbilical cord blood donations are usually processed and stored by public banks for public use or for some research. The cord blood is usually not available for private use if it has already been donated. There are no extra charges for storing your belongings. To aid others in need, some mothers give their baby’s cord blood to public banks.
- Private banks preserve cord blood for the family’s personal usage in the upcoming future. Long-term storage can be very expensive.
Reasons you should do it and not
Advantages: Those parents who choose to bank their baby’s umbilical cord blood privately, often find its cost reasonable and see it as a form of insurance and a good investment in case their child might require it some time.
Families with a child suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, some other cancers, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, or other transplant-treatable diseases may seriously want to consider cord blood banking for their own use, in which case they can donate and store their baby’s cord blood for free through the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Sibling Donor Cord Blood Program. If another family member has an illness that can be treated with a bone marrow transplant, this may be counted as a good idea.
Disadvantage: Even though there are some good reasons to do it, there are also some good reasons to not do it. Despite the notion that money should not be given a role when saving a child’s life, one of the most common arguments against private cord blood banking is that it is simply too expensive for many families out there. Not everybody can afford this kind of money. You must pay an annual storage cost in addition to a high initial processing and banking fee. Depending on the private bank you choose, first-year costs might range from $595 to $1,835. The average annual storage charge is around $150.
In their subject review of cord blood banking, the American Academy of Paediatrics neatly summarises most of the disadvantages of private cord banking, they thought that families may be prone to emotive marketing at the time of a child’s delivery and may go to their doctors for advice.
There are clearly no precise estimations of the possibility that children may require their own stored cells for future purposes. There are a variety of estimates available, it ranges from 1:1000 to 1:200,000. There is also no evidence that autologous cord blood transplantation for the treatment of malignant neoplasms is safe or efficacious. As a result, it’s difficult to advise parents to save their children’s cord blood for future use.
Remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said in a policy statement on cord blood banking titled “Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation” that private preservation of cord blood as biological insurance should be discouraged. In 2017, this policy from 2007 was reaffirmed.
Also, if your child develops one of the illnesses that an umbilical cord transplant is designed to cure or treat and suppose you had not saved his cord blood, that does not imply he will not be able to receive any kind of therapy. You might even be able to discover a cord blood match in a public cord blood bank, which is where most cord blood transplants are being done, in addition to more standard treatments and bone marrow transplants.
Is Cord Blood Banking the Best Option for Me?
Make sure you discuss your options with your health care physician if you are thinking of banking your newborn’s cord blood. The benefits and drawbacks of public and private cord blood banking can be discussed with your clinician.
Suppose you or any member of your family has an illness that may be treated with stem cells, then private cord blood banking can be beneficial.
Parents are increasingly having more options spread in front of them for donating their baby’s cord blood or if they later need a cord blood transplant, in addition to non-profit and for-profit cord blood banks like Viacord and Cord Blood Registry. The National Cord Blood Stem Cell Act of 2005, enacted into law in December 2005, allows for the creation of a National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI).
To treat several patients, the goal is to collect and preserve 150,000 fresh cord blood units. A portion of the cord blood will further be donated for research purposes as well. Meanwhile, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Reauthorization Acts of 2010 and 2015 required the United States Government Accountability Office to report on its efforts to increase cord blood collection for the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
If you want to donate your baby’s umbilical cord blood to help any youngster who needs a transplant, public or free cord blood banks are already available as part of the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Network in 12 major cities. The American Academy of Pediatrics highly advises parents to donate their child’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank.
Of course, if the cost is acceptable to you and you would feel more secure knowing that your baby’s umbilical cord blood is available in the event of a medical emergency, you can always go with a private cord blood bank.
Have you decided to donate?
Donating to a public cord blood bank can help a patient receive life-saving stem cells. If you choose to donate, there are a number of options available to you. Many doctors and researchers believe that umbilical cord blood should be saved. Most of us have no need for stem cells right now, but research into their application to treat diseases is ongoing, and the future looks bright.
Make sure you talk to your doctor or the hospital or birthing center where your baby will be delivered if you want to donate your child’s umbilical cord blood. It is preferable to begin the procedure early in your pregnancy, so you have plenty of time to consider your alternatives.
Nobody knows how stem cells will be employed in the future, but researchers do want to use them to cure a variety of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart failure, and spinal cord damage.
It is possible that keeping your child’s cord blood cells today will help fight these disorders in the future. For the time being, these treatments are just that: hypotheses. It is also unclear if stem cells from cord blood will be effective in these treatments, as compared to stem cells from other sources.
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