Bringing a child into the world is a joyful moment and since couples have approximately nine months to consider and plan for their new bundle of joy thoughts often enter their heads regarding how they will pay for college, a new car or clothing. However, more and more parents are also considering what they would do if their unborn child were in an accident or had a disease and needed medical care for a transplant. What these parents are considering is cord blood banking.
Cord blood banking is a relatively new concept, however its potential benefits are huge and it does not cause harm or pain to mother or child. Essentially, cord blood banking is harvesting the umbilical cord at the time of birth. The reason for this is the umbilical cord blood may be stored in a cryogenic freezer and if the child ever needs it at any time it will be there waiting. With cord blood banking the individual has their very own source of blood that can be used for a variety of purposes as soon as a problem presents itself. There is no looking for a match or donor, testing family members, or the like with cord blood banking. Instead, cord blood banking is a private source of blood ready and available whenever it is needed. Since there is no risk involved for mother or baby many couples want to harvest the umbilical cord and have a safeguard or insurance for their child in the event of an emergency. There are benefits and drawbacks to cord blood banking as well.
The benefits of cord blood banking other than not having side effects for mother or child and that it is always available also includes other advantages. For example, most insurance providers prefer and cover cord blood procedures over bone marrow transplants because they are cheaper and more cost effective for the insurance provider. In addition to this, the cells in cord blood can be used for a wider variety of situations and because of this there is less risk of infection and graft versus host disease. While there are many benefits parents should consider before making the decision for cord banking there are also some drawbacks as well.
The drawbacks of cord banking include the blood cells are not as developed as cells found in bone marrow and as a result the process takes longer for the cells to adapt to the body. The drawback to this is that after a transplant the body is more vulnerable for a longer period of time to infections which could be fatal. Another drawback is there are only enough stem cells in a cord blood harvest to handle the transplant of a child or small adult weighing less than 100 pounds. However, research is constantly improving and new uses are being found for cord blood cells so while this is a drawback it is not likely to always be one. Of course, the disadvantages of cord blood banking are not so severe that they are deterrents not to bank cord blood. The biggest deterrent to banking cord blood is that it costs money.
Cord blood is stored in cryogenic freezers and as a result must be stored and monitored by a staff of individuals. These freezers, the location and staff all cost money, which means the storage of cord blood also costs money. There are a few free cord blood storage banks, but not enough so as to make it an available option to all. And while only a small percentage of children will ever need their own cord blood before the age of 20, having cord blood stored and ready for those that do could be your child’s saving grace. The answer to saving cord blood or not depends on how you feel about cord blood storage and your budget.