After a baby is born, and even after delayed cord clamping, there is blood remaining in the umbilical cord and placenta that holds valuable newborn stem cells. These cells can be collected at birth by a phlebotomist, or your consultant, and are then transferred to be harvested, tested and stored in case you ever need them. So some may say it’s the ultimate insurance policy. Is this the case though?
Lets’ take it back to the basics, what the hell are stem cells?
Stem cells are a type of cell that have not yet undergone differentiation, so they can become specialised to form any type of cell. Umbilical cord blood contains unique stem cells called haematopoietic stem cells; HSCs. These specialised cells can reproduce into the types of cells found in the blood. As the HSC’s found in cord blood are particularly naive due to being essentially left over after the birth of your baby, this makes them highly desirable for use in stem cell transplantation as they can be transplanted with less adverse effects than other forms of stem cell treatment. They also offer a higher chance of a match to family members than cells obtained from other sources.
What does blood/stem cell banking mean?
Cord blood banking means preserving the newborn stem cells found in the blood of the umbilical cord. These cells can be used to develop treatments for 85 illnesses. So, when you step back and take a look at your child’s future, there is a huge potential benefit. These stem cells can protect, not just this baby, but also future siblings and even ourselves.
How are they collected?
Many companies will send you your collection kit well before the estimated birth date. This contains everything you need to collect the sample. Make sure you take it with you to the hospital on the big day or have it accessible at home. After your birth either your consultant or a phlebotomist that is provided by the company (this is an extra cost) will extract the sample of stem cells and place them into the collection kit. This is then collected by a medical courier and transferred to the lab where they will check the sample for viability and health.
How are they stored?
After your baby’s sample is processed into a concentrate it is then split into a number of portions and stored for future use. All samples are then double checked and the number of stem cells counted to make sure they are ready for possible future use. These samples are then cryogenically frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored in a secure facility for decades to come.
What illnesses can they fight?
Stem cells collected in this way can now fight more than 85 diseases from leukaemia to anaemia’s and thalassemia’s.
Why would I bother?
I’ll be honest if money is tight it might not be an option as it’s not an essential. But if you decided the investment in your child’s future health is worth is why would you not?? Why would anyone not to have the cure to life threatening illnesses available to their baby if it's an option?
How much does it cost and Where can I find out more?
Prices start from around £1,500 and there are lots of companies offering this. I recommend Future Health as they have a presence in 75 counties around the world and are well regarded. If you would like to look into cord blood banking then my readers can get 10% off by quoting Stilettos to Strollers.
Parents have a choice between donating cord blood to a public bank for free, or paying to store it for their family in a private bank. Cord blood banking includes the whole process from collection through storage of newborn stem cells for future medical purposes. You can read more at parentsguidecordblood.org/en
When you’re having a baby you often get caught up in the ‘here and now’ and it is very easy to get caught up or even feel burdened by all of the advice and recommendations you get. Stem cell banking is a way of protecting your baby and possibly other babies you may have from a host of future illnesses and that’s why I think it really is something to consider should it be an option for you.