As you prepare to welcome your newborn into the world, it’s a good time to think about how to make the best use of the potentially life-saving stem cells in their umbilical cord blood.

Umbilical cord blood is a unique type of blood, only available for collection immediately after childbirth.  Unlike mature blood, umbilical cord blood contains high numbers of stem cells that were used to create life.  Known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), these cells can be programmed by the body to become any type of blood component, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Currently, there are over 80 FDA approved treatments using the umbilical cord blood, including childhood leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and other blood cancers and immune disorders. The stem cells in umbilical cord blood are used to rebuild the body following chemotherapy and other aggressive treatments for these diseases.

In addition to the current FDA approved uses for cord blood stem cells, medical research is exploring its the potential for treating Cerebral Palsy, hypoxic brain injury at birth, and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Umbilical cord blood stem cells can be collected immediately after childbirth and processed to isolate and cryogenically preserve the HSCs for potential future medical use.  If needed, stored stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be thawed and transfused into the bloodstream to regenerate the immune system.

3  Options for Your Child’s Cord Blood

There are clear benefits to saving cord blood stem cells, but it can be confusing to decide where to store them.  Twenty-eight states now mandate that OBGYNs inform patients about cord blood banking so they can make an informed choice about what to do with their child’s umbilical cord blood.

The three options to consider for your newborn’s umbilical cord blood include donating it to a public cord blood bank, storing privately, or discarding it after your child is delivered.  Unless you arrange to donate or privately bank your newborn’s cord blood, it will be discarded and unavailable for transplant.

Public and private banks serve very different purposes, and it is important to know which type of banking options makes the most sense for you and your family.

1. Donate It

By donating your newborn’s umbilical cord blood, you are joining a nationwide effort to create a genetically diverse inventory of stem cells for a child or adult in need of a potentially life-saving transplant.  Public banks collect qualifying cord blood donations from healthy pregnancies and save them in case one will be the match to save the life of a patient in need of a stem cell transplant.

It’s free to donate your child’s cord blood and makes it possible for someone to find a match outside of their family.  Public cord blood banking is highly recommended by both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Medical Association (AMA).

To learn more about donating your child’s cord blood, click here.

2. Privately Bank It

You also have the option of banking your newborn’s umbilical cord blood stem cells.  Private cord blood banks collect newborn umbilical cord blood at the time of childbirth and store them for a family’s exclusive use.  Since the stem cells are a 100% genetic match to the child, and a partial match to other family members, cord blood stem cells can also potentially be used to treat siblings, parents, and grandparents.

Private cord blood banks charge a fee for collecting, processing, and storing umbilical cord blood.  Typical upfront fees range from $1,000 to $2,300, with annual storage fees of $150 charged after the first year.

To learn more about private cord blood banking, click here.

3. Discard It

Unless you arrange to donate or privately bank your newborn’s cord blood, it will be discarded and unavailable for transplant.

FREE Guide to Cord Blood Banking

Cord For Life® has been a pioneer in cord blood banking for over 20 years and is one of very few cord blood banks that offer both public and private cord blood banking options. They offer a FREE Guide to cord blood banking that explains the process and answers questions every expectant parent asks about stem cells and cord blood banking.