Cord blood banking has become the latest way of insuring your child’s health and future by storing the blood from the umbilical cord of the baby at the time of its birth. It is one of the latest innovations of medical technology, which is expected to bring a major breakthrough in healthcare in the coming times. Cord blood banking is by no means a cheap procedure, as it is advanced and complicated. But considering the lifesaving benefits it might bring in future, incurring high cord blood banking cost may seem justified. It is important to understand the process to weight its cost against benefits.
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking refers to collection and storage of the blood left in the placenta and umbilical cord of the newborn baby. The cord blood contains special kind of lifesaving cells known as the stem cells. These cells have the potential to grow into tissues, organs and blood vessels. This makes them useful for treating a number of life threatening diseases. The cord blood can be stored in a family cord blood bank and can be used by your family later on. The second one is to donate the same to a public cord blood bank, from where it can be accessed by anyone who needs it.
Collection Of Cord Blood
Though parents may be apprehensive about the process, cord banking is actually safe and painless. It is done immediately after the baby is delivered, normally or by C-section. As soon as the baby is born, the medical provider clamps the cord and cuts it. The clamping has to be done at once; otherwise, the cord blood will get clotted and will be of no use. Then he inserts a needle in the umbilical vein on the cord, while it is attached to the placenta. Nearly 1 to 5 ounces of cord blood is drained into a collection bag with the needle. Meanwhile, the baby is not even touched with the needle and the whole process lasts for less than 10 minutes. This means that parents need not worry about hurting the baby. Soon afterwards, the blood is taken to the cord blood bank. Here, it is preserved by freezing it at a controlled temperature, but only after testing it for any abnormalities.
Benefits Of Cord Blood Banking
When you consider the cost of blood banking, it might seem to be exorbitant. Nevertheless, considering the benefits of storing cord blood for later use, the cost is totally justified. Cord blood contains stem cells, which act as the building blocks of blood as well as the immune system. It is useful for treating various kinds of diseases and for repair and rejuvenation of blood vessels, tissues and organs. Stem cells are found in other parts of the human body, but they are in small quantity, not enough to be collected and used for similar purposes. Stem cells in the cord blood can be used for treating life-threatening diseases such as leukemia. Stem cell transplant is a therapy, which comes to rescue of leukemia patients, who do not benefit from chemotherapy. Stem cell transplant involves transfusion of stem cells to the patient. These cells can be taken from the cord blood or bone marrow of a healthy donor. If the treatment works, the patient’s body will be able to make use of these cells to produce new blood as well as immune system, setting him well on the path to recovery. Stem cells from the cord blood are considered better as compared to those from the donor bone marrow, as the chances of the body accepting the former are more favorable. In fact, cord blood has become a preferred source of transplant for mixed race or minority patients in the US. This is just a single example of cord blood being used as an effective therapeutic too. In addition to leukemia, cord blood stem cells can be used to treat a wide array of diseases such as thalassemia, a plastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, Hodgkin’s disease and other immune deficiencies. Rare metabolic disorders in infants, such as Sanfilippo syndrome and Krabbe disease, can also be combated with cord blood transplants. Studies are being conducted regarding using cord blood for treatment of conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, juvenile diabetes and congenital heart defects. If the trials are successful, cord blood can become a lifeline for patients in future.
When you weigh the benefits of cord blood banking against its costs, it may seem like a small price to pay, considering the fact that it may save your life. At the same time, there is a risk that cord blood might not be used up for your entire life. Still, cord blood banking can be considered as an innovative technology, which is very valuable for human race.