Every expectant mother wants whats best for her baby, and besides planning for the arrival of a new family member in all the usual ways, such as preparing the nursery, purchasing equipment and assembling babys layette, there are other important considerations to be borne in mind – for example, providing extra protection for the future. Making financial provision is an obvious example, however less obvious is the process of harvesting cord blood at the time of birth for use in the future should it ever be required.
Like good financial planning, cord blood collection needs a little bit of advance planning if parents are to take full advantage of the many important medical benefits the process can provide. With private cord blood banking a fee is applicable, however public cord blood banking carries no charges.
How it works
At the time of birth, blood is collected from the babys umbilical cord and from the placenta; it is then stored for medical use if required in the future. This is a completely pain-free procedure and at no time is either mother or baby in any danger whatsoever. Also, partners can still cut the umbilical cord if they so wish.
Once the umbilical cord has been safely clamped and cut, typically between three and five ounces of the blood is extracted by syringe from the section near the placenta. The cord blood is shipped to a treatment center where it is tested, processed and then frozen; the cord blood banks aim to store only good quality samples, as cord blood contains vital stem cells that can be lifesavers in certain illnesses.
Banking cord blood for baby’s future protection
Although parents don’t like to think of it at the time they are celebrating the birth of their baby, it’s a hard fact that there are certain diseases that attack babies and children with distressing and sometimes fatal consequences. These include leukemia and other childhood cancers, cerebral palsy, juvenile (type 1) diabetes and pediatric brain injury.
If a baby’s cord blood is stored, treatment using cord blood stem cells is ideal for some, but not all, of these conditions as they help the body to repair itself. Cancers are extremely problematic, and in many cases a cancer-free sibling’s cord blood is the preferred choice, as it does not contain the capacity to develop cancer. For this reason some parents choose to pay and use a private cord blood bank, knowing they will then have access to family (genetically matching) stem cells.
Why cord blood is invaluable
Stem cells, which are found in cord blood, are crucial elements in a person’s immune system. They have the capacity to grow and change into other types of cells, so they are suitable for repairing organs, tissues and blood vessels. In addition, research is beginning to demonstrate their usefulness in treating conditions in adults such as stroke, heart failure, spinal cord injuries and diabetes. There is also considerable hope that in the future they will make a significant contribution towards combating multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. In essence, collecting cord blood is an effective way of storing up a medical resource for the future.