Cord blood from the baby remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. It contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells, which can use to treat certain types of diseases.
Because cord blood relates to the cord blood banking system, it often a broad term for the various stored cells. It may surprise some parents to learn that stored cord blood contains little of what people think of as “blood,” since red blood cells (RBCs) can be harmful in cord blood therapy. (As discussed later, one of the primary goals of cord blood processing is to significantly reduce the number of red blood cells in any cord blood collection.)
In Europe and other parts of the world, cord blood banking is more commonly called stem cell banking. Since bank cord blood is designed to collect hematopoietic stem cells rather than the blood cells themselves, this term may be more appropriate.
There was a time before the 1990s when the umbilical cord and its blood considered medical waste. Today, parents store or store their baby’s umbilical cord blood because the stem cells in it use or show promise in the treatment of life-threatening and debilitating diseases.
Fortunately for expectant parents, cord blood can easily collect through the umbilical cord at birth without harming the mother or the baby. This is why pregnancy is a great time to plan your baby’s cord blood.
Cord Blood in Disease Treatment
Cord blood contains an abundance of stem cells and immune system cells, and the medical use of these cells is expanding rapidly. Because these cells help the body regenerate tissues and systems, cord blood is often called regenerative medicine.
Cord blood is now FDA-approved for treating nearly 80 conditions. More than 35,000 cord blood treatments have performed worldwide for cancer (including lymphoma and leukemia), anemia, inherited metabolic disorders, some solid tumors, and orthopedic conditions. for treatment. repair. Researchers are also investigating how cord blood can cross the blood-brain barrier and reduce inflammation, which can be an important factor in treating previously untreatable conditions. The most exciting of these are autism, cerebral palsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, the chance of receiving a stem cell transplant by age 70 is one in 217. Still, with continued advances in cord blood and related stem and immune cell research, the chances of using preserved cord blood to treat disease continue to increase. You can read more about umbilical cord blood as a regenerative medicine here.
While most parents would love to donate their children’s cord blood to protect their family, the cost of cord blood banking is often one of the reasons they don’t. Most cord blood banks charge an upfront fee for cord blood collection, processing, and cryopreservation, which ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. This upfront fee often includes the cost of equipment to safely collect and transport the cord blood, medical courier services to expedite the safe delivery of the supply, testing the mother’s blood for infectious diseases, and testing the baby’s blood. for possible pollution and the cost of the first full year of storage. Then, often on the child’s birthday, there is an annual fee for ongoing storage, which is about $100-$200 a year.
Although cord blood banking is a new experience for many parents, it’s simple. After all, most moms worry about how the birth will go and don’t want to worry about the details of collecting, processing, and freezing the baby’s cord blood. Fortunately, the health care provider and the cord blood bank do most of the work. Here are the steps in cord blood:
- The cord blood bank sends you a collection kit. Kits like ours just need to store at room temperature.
- The cord blood collection kit goes with the expectant parents to the delivery center.
- Upon admission, the mother’s blood collects to test for any infectious diseases as mandated by federal regulations.
- Upon birth but before the placenta delivers, the healthcare provider will clamp and cut the umbilical cord as normal.
- The remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta is approx. 40–120 milliliters of cord blood. The healthcare provider will extract the cord blood from the umbilical cord at no risk or harm to the baby or mother.
- The collection bag with the baby’s cord blood and the vials with the mother’s blood are places back inside the collection kit.
- Parents call a toll-free number on the collection kit to have a medical courier—any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week—arrange for its transportation to the cord blood bank.