Parents now have the option of collecting a piece of the umbilical cord after their baby’s cord blood is collected. The umbilical cord contains mesenchymal stem cells that give rise to muscle, cartilage, bone and cardiac cells. These cells have great promise for regenerative diseases. Currently, there are over 200 clinical trials using mesenchymal stem cells.
Cord Blood Banking is one of the most important decisions for parents regarding the long term health of your baby so careful consideration must be given to banking before your baby is born. Currently, 28 states mandate cord blood education for pregnant women.
Stem cells,which are master cells from the baby’s umbilical cord, are now helping families safeguard their future health. Cord blood is rich in hematopoietic (blood) stem cells which are the foundation of our blood and immune systems. Uses for cord blood stem cells increase each year and the future holds much promise for treating many diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s, Type1 Diabetes, cerebral palsy, neurological trauma and heart defects. Pregnant women should be fully informed of their options for their baby’s stem cells.
Facts about Cord Blood Stem Cells:
- Umbilical cord blood stem cells are a perfect match for your baby and a close match for other family members. Because cord blood stem cells are very young cells that have had limited exposure to the environment and viruses, cord blood stem cells will tolerate mismatch making it easier to match cord blood to a recipient.
- Cord blood stem cells are used to treat approximately 80 diseases including leukemia, lymphoma, immune deficiency and genetic disorders. Currently, cord blood stem cells are being used in clinical trials for regenerative diseases and conditions, using the child’s own cord blood stem cells.
- The number of diseases being treated for stem cells has been increasing. The current odds of undergoing any stem cell transplant by age 70 is 1 in 217.
- Leading scientists believe cord blood stem cells can be cryogenically stored indefinitely.
- Compared to bone marrow, cord blood stem cells are immunologically younger than bone marrow stem cells and, therefore, less likely to produce graft versus host disease. Cord blood stem cells are easier to match up as well for a family member.
Cord blood stem cells have the ability to differentiate into almost every cell in the body. Clinical trials are now being conducted for autism, hearing disorders, cerebral palsy and neurological trauma, using the baby’s own cord blood stem cells.
How is Cord Blood Collected?
Cord Blood collection is painless to both the mother and baby and completely safe. After the baby is born and the cord is cut and clamped, the cord blood will be collected into a collection bag while the placenta is still in the uterus. It takes approximately 3 to 5 minutes. A medical courier will then come and collect your cord blood right at the hospital. Cord blood remains at room temperature after collection. No refrigeration is necessary for collected cord blood stem cells.
When should I make the decision to preserve my baby’s cord blood stem cells?
It is best to make a decision to bank your baby’s stem cells within the first 32 weeks of pregnancy. However, in many cases, it is possible to have a collection kit overnighted to you if you decide at a later date.
Are there any other options for preserving the cord blood stem cells?
You may be able to donate your baby’s cord blood stem cells to a public bank. If you do donate these cells to a public bank these cells are available to anyone who matches up to the cells. Cord blood stem cells are matched by tissue markers rather than blood type.