Cord blood is the blood in your baby’s umbilical cord, and cord blood banking is based on optimal utilization of the same. It contains stem cells that can grow into blood vessels, organs and tissues. Your baby’s cord blood may be collected at birth and stored for future use. These specialized cells are used to treat dozens of diseases and many clinical trials are exploring their suitability for helping those with autism, brain injury and other conditions.
What is cord blood banking?
As a new parent, you have the option of collecting and storing the blood left in your newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta. This process of storing it for future medical use is known as cord blood banking. You can either donate your baby’s cord blood to a public cord blood bank for anyone who needs it, or you can pay to store your baby’s cord blood in a private cord blood bank for your family’s use.
How is cord blood collected?
The collection of cord blood is generally done right after birth. It is a painless and safe process for you and your baby. The collection is done so quickly after the birth that parents are often unaware that it has already happened.
These are the steps involved in cord blood banking:
- Clamping and cutting the cord
After your delivery, whether vaginal or by C-section, the cord is clamped. You can delay cord clamping, as long as the delay is no longer than a minute or two. Delaying it for too long can cause the blood to clot and it cannot be collected for storage.
- Extracting the cord blood
Your doctor will insert a needle into the umbilical vein on the part of the cord that is still attached to the placenta. Your baby will not be harmed during this process. The blood drains into a collection bag and the entire process takes less than 10 minutes.
- Sending it to the blood bank
After collection, the blood is sent to a cord blood bank where it is tested, processed and cryopreserved for long term storage, if deemed acceptable according to quality standards.
Potential benefits of cord blood banking
Cord blood is rich in blood stem cells – the building blocks of the blood and immune system. They have the ability to repair tissues, organs and blood vessels, and can be used to treat a host of diseases. The stem cells in cord blood are immature and can’t attack foreign substances. This makes it easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with other sources of stem cells, because these cord blood cells are less likely to reject transfusion. An increasing number of adults are receiving cord blood transplants, sometimes involving two cord blood donations if a single one doesn’t contain enough cells.
Cord blood stem cells have been used to successfully treat many diseases including certain types of cancers, blood disorders and immune deficiencies. Among these are leukemia, aplastic anemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They are also used to treat thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
Now that you’re more aware of why cord blood banking might be useful, you can talk to the doctors at KIMS Cuddles to discuss its various costs and benefits in detail. We’ll help you take the best decision for you and your baby.
*The opinions expressed in this article are not to be substituted for medical advice under any circumstance