By the time you reach pregnancy week 11, your baby has developed his or her own heart – and it’s already beating strongly. At the same time, your own body is busy delivering nutrients and important antibodies to your little one, preparing him or her for life in the outside world. Sometimes though, a strong immune system isn’t enough. That’s where cord blood banking comes in: The blood contained in a baby’s umbilical cord is a vital source of undifferentiated stem cells. Read on to learn more about cord blood banking, why it is important, plus some pros and cons associated with the practice.
What are Stem Cells?
You’ve probably heard of stem cells and stem cell therapy, but you may not know the basics. Stem cells are classified as undifferentiated cells, meaning that they can “differentiate” or transform into other types of cells. Stem cells can also self-renew, producing more identical cells that can later be transformed into other vital tissues. With stem cell therapy, it is possible to treat a wide array of diseases and disorders, including life-threatening illnesses
How is Cord Blood Harvested?
Cord blood harvest is painless to you and your baby, and it usually takes less than five minutes to complete. In some cases, blood is extracted from the umbilical cord via syringe, and in other cases, cord blood is harvested by raising the umbilical cord and then allowing the blood to drain into a collection container. This takes place within 15 minutes of birth, and can be conducted whether your baby is born vaginally or via C-section.
Once cord blood has been extracted, it is processed and stored. In the US, it is important to ensure that storage takes place in an American Association of Blood Bank (AABB) approved facility. Accreditation ensures that accepted standards are met, and can play a part in patient outcome in the event that your baby or another family member needs to use stored cord blood.
How Can Cord Blood be Used?
Because cord blood stem cells can be transformed into other types of cells, there are dozens of ways to use cord blood. It is often used to treat leukemia, and inherited diseases including metabolic and immune disorders are often treated with cord blood as well. Lymphoma and other forms of cancer have been successfully treated with cord blood, and so have platelet disorders. As time passes, researchers are almost certain to discover new ways to treat patients using their own stored cord blood.
Pros and Cons of Cord Blood Banking
- The body sometimes rejects stem cells from other donors.
- Cord blood stem cells are rejected less often than bone marrow stem cells.
- Other family members may be able to use stored cord blood if needed.
- Cord blood banking represents an expense that you might need to prepare for. The cost of cord blood banking varies depending on your location and other factors.Cord Blodd Banking: Should I Consider It?
Cord Blood Donation
Just like plasma and platelets, donated cord blood can help save the lives of others. Consider donating – it costs nothing, and with a simple 5-minute procedure, you and your little one could make a life-changing difference to another family.
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