In just a few short years, cord blood banking has gone from virtually unknown to a common occurrence. Expectant mothers across the country receive a pamphlet about cord blood banking upon their first prenatal doctor’s visit, and many turn the advice into action. The incredible healing power of a newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood is virtually unmatched, and every new mother should think seriously about banking the blood for the future.
The Basic Facts About Cord Blood
Cord blood is a simplified name for the blood that remains in the blood vessels of the placenta and umbilical cord after a newborn’s umbilical cord is cut. The baby no longer needs that extra blood after birth, but it nevertheless has very valuable applications. In addition to containing the four standard elements of blood-red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma, cord blood is also rich in hematopoietic stem cells like those found in bone marrow. To date, more than 80 different diseases have been treated using cord blood, and the potential exists for so many more uses to be uncovered. Cord blood banking, then, is the process of collecting cord blood and storing it for potential future medical use.
Cord Blood Banking Will Protect Your Family
First and foremost, the decision to privately bank your baby’s cord blood will give you the ability to harness the remarkable healing powers of those cord blood stem cells in the future. All types of stem cells can heal the body and promote recovery from disease, but the stem cells from a newborn’s cord blood offer more benefits than adult and embryonic stem cells. Not only can stem cells from cord blood differentiate into various types of cells and treat human patients; they also have high proliferation capacity, low risk of tumor formation, low risk of viral contamination, and the capacity for autologous transplantation. In other words, saving cord blood gives you access to the most efficient and groundbreaking stem cell therapy treatments that have the ability to save your child’s life.
For example, umbilical cord blood is currently being used successfully to treat or cure immune diseases, genetic disorders, cancers, injuries, and other illnesses. If your family has a history of specific genetic diseases, banking cord blood is the best insurance policy to ensure effective and safe treatment down the road. Best of all, if your baby is the one who needs treatment, his or her cord blood is guaranteed to be a perfect match. It’s also a “half match” for parents and has a 1 in 4 chance of matching a sibling.
Cord Blood Banking Can Contribute to Vital Research
Cord blood banking does cost a significant amount of money each year, so if you are not able to commit to those costs, you can still ensure that your baby’s cord blood does not go to waste. Instead of banking it privately, you can donate it to research. Studies are currently underway around the world to determine how cord blood and its stem cells can be harnessed to treat or cure cerebral palsy, autism, type 1 diabetes, and different types of cancer. By donating your baby’s cord blood, you can help keep this research going. Consider that only five percent of parents currently bank their baby’s cord blood, and only 10 percent of that blood goes into public banks. Now imagine how much more research might occur if more parents opted to donate their baby’s cord blood.
The Future Will Reveal More Valuable Uses of Cord Blood
Regenerative medicine research has already unveiled treatments and cures using cord blood that would have been considered impossible only 10 or 20 years ago. From leukemia and lymphoma to deadly autoimmune diseases, many lives can be saved with cord blood. It won’t take long for research to reveal even more lifesaving applications of cord blood, such as for spinal cord injuries, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and more. If you bank your baby’s cord blood, you guarantee that 2, 14, or 30 years down the road, your child has the medical capabilities to overcome nearly any injury or illness, and that is a powerful peace of mind.