When Saving for the Future, Don’t Forget the Cord Blood

by ParentCo. July 25, 2017

mother holding new born baby

Would you consider a quick, pain-free addition to your birth plan if it had the potential to save your child’s life, or other lives, in the future? Extracting stem cells from cord blood and placental tissue is a relatively new medical advancement becoming common practice in hospital and home births around the country.

What is cord blood and why is it important?

Cord blood is the blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta. It's filled with immature cells (called hematopoietic stem cells or HSCs) that can reproduce themselves and are the precursors to red and white blood cells and platelets.

HSCs are used to treat blood disorders, immune system issues, cancers, and other health problems. Americord Registry, a leader in private cord blood, cord tissue, and placental tissue banking, reports that the FDA has approved more than 80 treatments using stem cells from umbilical cords, and clinical trials are exploring the probability of using them to treat blood cancers, cerebral palsy, type one diabetes, and other diseases.

How cord blood is collected

Dr. Frances Verter founded the nonprofit, Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation after she lost her young daughter to cancer. Dr. Verter explains the simple process as being similar to a typical blood draw that can be done by any doctor or midwife.

Common cord blood collection process
  1. Clamp the umbilical cord
  2. Wipe the cord with antiseptic
  3. Insert a needle with an attached vial into the umbilical cord’s vein
  4. Draw out a few ounces of blood into the vial (at least 50 ml is needed)

The cord blood can also be collected by hanging a blood bag lower than the mom and baby and letting gravity draw the blood into the bag or having a technician draw blood from both the umbilical cord and placenta in another room after both have been delivered.

Families who wish to delay clamping the umbilical cord can wait up to three minutes after birth and still collect enough blood for banking.

Cord blood FAQs

Sometimes baby deliveries are less than ideal. Labor may begin at an unexpected time when your cord blood preparations aren’t physically with you. The Americord Rush program will deliver you a kit in a matter of hours if you need one at the last minute.

This checklist will help you remember blood banking essentials.

What it's like to get the cord blood stored

After the blood and its stem cells are taken from your baby’s umbilical cord, they are transported to a lab within 72 hours where they will be stored for 20 -25 years for future medical use. Stem cells from cord blood have not yet been stored for more than 25 years and more research is needed to determine the maximum length of viability in storage.

Storing cord blood can be a private or a public endeavor.

Private banks charge for the collection, processing, and storage of your newborn’s stem cells and make them available in the event they could be used as medical treatment for either your baby or another blood relative. The family retains all control over their baby’s stem cells. Pricing structures vary between private banks – some add annual fees for storage, while others only require a one-time payment.

A public cord bank works a bit like the charities to which you donate your clothing and furniture. A public cord bank receives donations of cord blood and makes it available to anyone who is a potential genetic match for treatments or for clinical research. Any collection, processing, and storage fees are paid for by the cord bank itself. The donor-family pays no fees but they give up their rights to the stem cells and how they are used. Cord blood donations are entered into a database and are listed by genetic type.

new born baby after birth

What to look for in a cord blood bank

Some important factors to consider are the services each bank offers, the bank’s success rate and reviews, the cost of banking, and the pricing plans offered. Banks should meet customer's needs in regards to price and value. Other factors may include researching a bank's partnerships with leading institutions and how they work with medical organizations to develop advancements in the latest technology and seek continued product innovation.

Some things you should know

  • Cord blood collected during home births can only be stored privately (not donated to a public cord bank).
  • According to WebMD, “In most of the country, a public donation isn't even possible. There's no system in place. So for many people, the choice isn't between public and private banking. It's between private banking and letting the cord blood go to waste.” The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation provides a map for public cord banks.
  • The stem cells from cord blood have been transplanted more than 6,000 times in the U.S., according to the Institute of Medicine.
  • Cord blood is collected and used in countries around the world. The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation blog has published stories from Canada, Ecuador, Iran, India, Spain, United Arab Emirates, and the United States of success stories from people receiving stem cells from umbilical cords.
  • The Institute of Medicine has proposed that Congress create a National Cord Blood Stem Cell Bank Program similar to the National Bone Marrow Donation System.

Only you can make the decision to bank your baby’s cord blood. If you're pregnant or plan to be in the near future, investigate the options and the benefits with your midwife or doctor today.

Parent Co. partnered with Americord because we believe there’s more than one way to bank on your child’s future.



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