Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth, which is usually discarded. Cord blood banking uses external facilities as a place to store and preserve your baby’s cord blood. When looking at storing your baby’s cord blood, it is important to use a cord blood bank accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB).
Why would I store my baby’s blood in a cord blood bank?
The cord blood of your baby serves as an abundant source of stem cells, which are genetically distinctive to your baby and your family. These stem cells function as dominant cells because they contribute to the development of all tissues, organs, and systems in the body.
Stem cells can transform into other types of cells in the body and create new growth and development; they are the building block of the immune system. This transformation of cells provides physicians with a way to treat leukemia and some inherited disorders. Cord blood stem cells have the same ability to treat disease as does bone marrow, however, there is significantly less rejection.
Banking your baby’s blood and stem cells in a cord blood bank provides you with a type of insurance. Hopefully, you will not need to access your baby’s stem cells to address a medical problem, but using a cord blood bank can give you peace of mind that this valuable resource is there if you need it. The stem cells from your baby’s cord blood may be able to treat certain diseases or conditions of a parent or sibling.
How is cord blood collected?
The cord blood collection process is simple, safe, and painless. It is usually completed in less than five minutes by your health care provider. Cord blood collection does not interfere with delivery and is possible with vaginal or cesarean deliveries. Your health care provider will use one of two options for cord blood collection: syringe method or bag method.
- Syringe method: a syringe is used to draw blood from the umbilical cord shortly after the umbilical cord has been cut. The process is basically the same as drawing blood for a blood test.
- Bag method: the umbilical cord is elevated to cause the blood to drain into a bag.
The syringe or bag should be pre-labeled with a unique number that represents your baby. Cord blood may only be collected during the first 15 minutes following the birth, and should be processed by the laboratory within 48 hours.
What happens to the cord blood once it has been collected?
Your baby’s cord blood will be processed and stored in a laboratory facility often referred to as a blood bank. The cord blood should be processed and stored in a facility that is accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) for handling stem cells.
What are the health risks to the mother or to the baby?
There are no health risks related to cord blood collection. Cord blood is retrieved from the umbilical cord after it has been cut, preventing any pain, discomfort, or harm. Cord blood collection is safe.
How much does cord blood banking cost?
There are usually two fees associated with cord blood banking. The first is the initial fee which includes enrollment, collection and storage for at least the first year, and the second is an annual storage fee. Some facilities offer a variety of options for the initial fee with predetermined periods of storage.
The initial fee will range from $900 to $2100 depending on the predetermined period of storage. Annual storage fees beyond the initial storage fee are approximately $100.
It is quite common for storage facilities to offer prepaid plans at a discount as well as payment plans to make the initial storage more convenient you and your family.
What if I do not want to store the cord blood?
Your baby’s cord blood could be a valuable resource for another family. Whether it is through foundations, non-profit blood banks or medical institutions, there are numerous locations that will collect, process, and use the stem cells from your baby’s cord blood to help other people. There are no costs to you, and it is just like donating blood.
If you do not choose to store your baby’s blood, consider donating. Your donation of cord blood could make a difference in someone else’s life.
Click here to find a public cord blood donation site in your area.
Where can I learn more about cord blood banking and arrange for cord blood banking services?
There are several cord blood banks that are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. Most offer information on cord blood banking as well as provide private cord blood banking services. You should be able to locate a credible cord blood bank online.
Compiled using information from the following sources:
Cord Blood Registry, http://www.cordblood.com