Should you bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood when he/she is born?
Many expecting parents seek to preserve precious stem cells should the child need them later in life. It’s a hot topic with my friends these days, so my doctor-husband looked up some recent studies in medical journals to get some undiluted details about this topic. I’ll sum them up for you:
FACT! Umbilical cord blood is not yet proven to combat cancer or regrow organs/tissues… it merely has the scientific potential. (Meaning, scientists are workin’ on it.) However, umbilical cord blood is currently proven to fight certain blood diseases (such as leukemia). See the medical journal abstract here:
Med J Aust. 2008 May 5.
IF you decide to bank, you will find 2 major options: private banking and public banking. Private banking is more costly (at $2,000 initiation fee, plus $200/year for up to 18 years), seemingly exclusive and reserves your baby’s blood only for your family to access. Public banking is more cost-affordable (almost free) and is similar to becoming an organ donor… it banks your baby’s blood to be available for anyone that might need it.
In a recent study out of Duke University (link below), the quality of privately-banked cord blood was compared to publicly-banked cord blood. Publicly-banked cord blood was consistently found to be better than privately-banked cord blood. The reason for the difference was believed that public banks are required to follow certain storage guidelines that private banks are not obligated not enforce. The better the storage methods, the better the blood’s effectiveness when you need it. The irony (to my husband and I) is that, based on this study, we’d prefer to access publicly-banked cord blood from a stranger, rather than privately-banked cord blood from our own baby, should he/she need it in the future! Check it out:
Transfusion. 2010 Jun 7.
Granted, there are many factors that parents must research should they be interested in this. Talk to your doctor for options in your local area. As for us, it’s too late to bank our baby’s blood (even though I haven’t had the baby yet). You must get the paperwork/requests/etc signed off 30 days prior to your due date. Had we known this sooner, my husband says he would’ve “no doubt” donated our baby’s cord blood to a public bank to be used for some greater good in the future. Otherwise, it just gets tossed with the trash after the baby’s born.