If you are soon-to-be parents, you must have heard a lot about cord blood, cord blood banking, its benefits, etc. This must have given rise to many questions in your mind, such as What is cord blood? What is cord blood banking used for? Is it really necessary? And so on. Here you get answers to all of them. Read on—
What is the meaning of Cord blood?
The blood that is found in the placenta and umbilical cord is referred to as cord blood. Most of the time, the umbilical cord is discarded after the birth of a child, but it contains miracle cells called stem cells. These cells help in the treatment of various chronic diseases. Every year, researchers are discovering more reasons to store cord blood in banks. Stem cells from cord blood may be used to treat severe diseases such as cancer or cerebral palsy. Cord blood banking refers to the process in which cord blood, which is a rich source of stem cells, is extracted from the umbilical cord of the baby following delivery. It can be used for research purposes or preserved for the treatment of life-threatening diseases.
What are Cord blood stem cells?
The stem cells found in cord blood and the placenta differs from bone marrow stem cells. Researchers have come to believe that cord blood could be the answer to many serious health problems, as cord blood cells can adapt to different environments and grow at the same time. Stem cells are a part of a new field in medicine called regenerative therapies. They can be used to treat brain injuries, autism, hearing loss, and other diseases.
Why are umbilical cord stem cells important?
It is not that stem cells are present only in the umbilical cord. These cells are present in many organs of the body. Whenever your body goes through trauma and stress, more such cells are generated. At the time of birth, the new-born’s blood contains a lot of these cells. A large amount of these cells is retained in the umbilical cord of the baby.
How is cord blood stem cells used?
Cord blood stem cells can treat more than 80 diseases, including many types of cancer. Most of the time, doctors search public databases to locate matching stem cell donors. Cord blood donations are useful, as there are not many bone marrow donors. Cord blood stem cells are more adaptable as compared to bone marrow stem cells. This means that cord blood cells do not have to be the exact match of the receiver in case of transplantations.
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting cord blood, and the stem cells and other types of immune system cells are extracted from it. These cells can then be cryogenically frozen to facilitate future medical use. Expectant as well as new parents are now embracing cord blood collection and storage. The best thing about stem cells is that they can easily be transformed into any type of human cells. They can also be used as a treatment option if a child or any other relative becomes ill with certain conditions later in life. The fluid of cord blood or umbilical cord can be used to treat many critical diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. It is rare for stem cells to be infected. The preservation of these life-saving cells can be done by banking cord blood. They are often thrown away right after birth. Now, the parents have the option to bank the stem cells in any way they wish.
What are the options for cord blood banking?
There are two options available for cord blood banking. They are as follows—
- Public cord blood banking: If you want your baby’s cord blood to be available for public use and research, you can go for this option. Diseases like leukaemia can be treated with the help of stem cells of an unrelated donor. Donating cord blood at a public facility would not cost you anything apart from a minimum hospital fee for the collection purpose. Your donated blood is then sent to a cord blood bank for preservation. If you store cord blood under a public program, then you will most likely not be able to retrieve it in the future for any sort of medical emergencies.
- Private cord blood banking: This option is suitable for people who wish to store their baby’s cord blood for their own use. Although the cost of privately banked cord blood can be high, including a collection fee and maintenance fees, the likelihood that your child will ever need it is slim. If your child needs a stem-cell transplant, it is not guaranteed that the banked blood will be viable or suitable for use.
If you are considering preserving your baby’s cord blood, you must discuss it with your doctor. Moreover, you must check your family’s medical history to be clear about any potential genetic threats to your baby. If there are chances that your baby might get a genetic disorder, you should go for cord blood banking just to be on the safer side.