What is cord blood banking?
According to Viacord, cord blood banking is “the process of collecting and storing your baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells for potential medical use.”
But what does that mean? Why is cord blood important?
If you recall from our post on delayed cord clamping, cord blood (the blood derived from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta) contains a plethora of stem cells. These stem cells, unlike bone marrow cells, are retrieved easily, quickly, and painlessly. Stem cells continue to be researched to use as treatments for severe diseases and conditions, like cerebral palsy, cancer, autism, brain injuries, and more. When used to restore tissue and organ function, this is called regeneration therapy. Stem cells are the building blocks of our immune system, adapting and growing in different environments.
How/ Where is cord blood banked?
Once the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, the blood is collected. Before delivery, you’ll secure a cord blood banking kit from an accredited cord blood bank, through the AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), which medical staff will use to ship the blood to the bank to be tested, processed, and cryopreserved.
You can choose to bank cord blood publicly or privately.
Public cord blood banks supply blood to patients in need of transplants and regeneration therapy, or for research use. To bank publicly, you must register before 34 weeks gestation, and complete a health screening test.
Private cord blood banks supply blood to any member of your family, should it be medically indicated. This can be safely stored for decades.
Should you add cord blood banking to your birth plan?
As we do with all important decisions, let’s use our “BRAIN!”
“B” - What are the Benefits of CBB?
The blood that is stored can be used for patients in need, including a family member, or used for research.
Publicly donating cord blood is free.
CBB is possible with both vaginal and cesarean births.
“R” - What are the Risks of CBB?
Private banking comes at a cost – roughly $1300 - $2200 for collection, and an additional yearly storage fee.
Public donations are not useful for long-term treatments, and may end up being discarded or used for research.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the likelihood of needing cord blood is about 1 in 200,000, especially if there is no family history of severe illness.
If your child is diagnosed with a genetic condition, they will not be able to use their own cord blood.
“A” - What are the Alternatives to CBB?
You can donate the cord blood immediately to a patient in need instead of banking.
“I” - Discuss the mother’s Instinct about CBB.
“N” - What if we do Nothing?
No cord blood would be collected.