While medical researchers and physicians have been lauding the application of cord blood stem cells in numerous cancer and disease therapies for years, the practice of collecting and storing umbilical cord blood is becoming more accepted and practical than ever. Families everywhere now have the opportunity to have their newborn baby’s cord blood collected and stored for future use in the event that the child or another family member develops a disease that can be treated using cord blood stem cells. Storing the umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby offers several unique medical benefits to families that may one day be confronted with serious medical problems. Here are 4 things to consider when you are deciding whether to participate in a cord blood storage program.
1) Collecting Cord Blood Stem Cells is Pain-Free
Unlike other medical procedures to extract stem cells from the body, the process of collecting stem cells from umbilical cord blood is completely noninvasive and safe for your baby. After the newborn’s umbilical cord is clamped and cut, the umbilical cord blood is drawn and saved. Once collected, the blood is preserved in a contamination-free environment. If you have elected to use private storage, the stem cells will ready to be used whenever your child needs them.
2) Cord Blood can Help Countless Patients
Stem cells are most effective on the person that donated them. If you store your baby’s cord blood, the stem cells will be a perfect match for your child if he or she ever needs stem cell therapy. Using the donor’s own cells in a procedure is referred to as “autologous” stem cell transplant, and this type of stem cell therapy is especially successful in treating more than 80 different diseases and medical conditions. And given that properly stored cord blood can be used at any point during your child’s lifespan, it has the potential to treat any number of life-threatening conditions that can arise during the his or her life.
Similarly, stem cells harvested from the cord blood of a donor can be used to treat other family members in many cases. There is a 25% chance1 that your other children will be a match for stem cells collected from your baby’s umbilical cord blood.
3) Cord Blood is Unique and Vital to the Success of Many Treatments
Stem cells extracted from cord blood are known to be more effective than bone marrow stem cells in treating many forms of cancer and other diseases. Unlike older stem cells that may be compromised or diseased themselves, cord blood stem cells are extremely versatile and pure.
Another major advantage of turning to stored cord blood as a treatment option is that it is immediately available for use in early-stage disease therapies. Furthermore, fewer medical complications are associated with cord blood stem cell transplants.
4) The Medical Application of Cord Blood is Expansive
To date, over 30,000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been conducted around the world, and the number continues to grow. And while cord blood stem cells are used in treatments for over 80 different diseases, researchers are continually investigating other potential therapies and prospective uses.
1. FAQs for the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation (2013). If I banked privately for one child, do I need to do it for additional children? Retrieved from http://parentsguidecordblood.org/faqs/2/