Cord Blood Banking Mom and Baby

Cord Blood Banking: Is It Worth It?

Cord Blood Banking FAQ’s mission is to provide unbiased, up to date information on cord blood banking.

We do not sell or endorse any cord blood banking services.

What is cord blood?

Cord blood is the leftover blood from a newborn’s umbilical cord after the baby has been delivered. The cord blood contains a rich amount of stem cells.

What is cord blood banking?

Cord blood been has been around since 1992 [1], with no risk to the mother or baby.

Leftover blood from a newborn’s cut umbilical cord is collected and stored for possible life saving use in the future. The cord blood can be stored in a public cord blood bank where it can be used by anyone or a private cord blood bank that can only be used by your family.

References:

1. New York Blood Center; Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation

Why should you consider cord blood banking?

Cord blood is loaded with stem cells. Stem cells have the extraordinary ability to turn into many different types of cells.

Cord blood stem cells are comprised of an abundance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and a small amount of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Although only a small amount of MSCs exist in cord blood, they are easily expanded so that a larger supply can be available for use in future regenerative medicine. [1] [2]

HSCs are used in transplant medicine, while MSCs are used in regenerative medicine.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs)
HSCs can turn into all types of blood cells, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. HSCs are used to replenish the blood supply in diseases such as sickle cell anemia, lymphoma and leukemia. HSC stem cells are also used to help patients recover after chemotherapy and radiation treatments. HSCs have been used in life saving treatments for many diseases over the last 29 years.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) 
MSCs can turn into many different types of cells to repair tissues in the body by replacing damaged cells, including muscle, bone and brain cells.

Almost 500 MSC-based clinical have been completed or are ongoing. [3] The clinical trials include type 1 diabetes, liver fibrosis, lung cancer, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, cardiac inflammation and sports injuries.

References:
1. Laitinen A et al. 2007; Curr Protoc Stem Cell Biol. Chapter 2:Unit 2A.3 PMID:18785175
2. Sarugaser R et al. 2005; Stem Cells. 23(2):220-9. PMID:15671145
3. Squillaro T et al. 2016; Cell Transplant. 25(5):829-48. PMID:26423725

How is cord blood collected?

Cord blood is collected from the cut umbilical cord. This means the cord blood can be collected in a separate room without the mother or baby present.  The cord blood is typically removed from the umbilical cord by a medical technician who places a needle into the vein of the cut umbilical cord. The cord blood then flows from the needle into the blood bag. This process is similar to how blood is drawn from patients and is called the ‘closed technique’, as the blood is closed off from the surrounding air and contaminants. The average amount of cord blood collected is about 100ml or half a cup.

How long can cord blood be banked or stored?

The cord blood can be banked for at least 23 years. Many think that cord blood could be stored indefinitely if it is cryogenically preserved at −196°C. [1]

References:
1. Hal E. Broxmeyer et al. 2011; Blood. 117(18): 4773–4777. PMID:PMC3100689

How likely is it that my baby's cord blood will be used?

Cord blood from public cord blood banks can be used by anyone who has a strong match, while cord blood from a private blood bank, can only be used by the family.

For certain types of cancer and leukemia, private cord blood may contain the mutation that caused the cancer. In this instance, matching cord blood from a public blood bank may be safer. This is currently the strongest argument against private blood banking for blood treatments (HSC) treatments.

The odds of needing your own cord blood for blood treatments (HSC) are very low. How low is varies by the source. According to Pediatric Oncologist, Dr. Harker-Murray, the best use for one’s own cord blood is for acquired aplastic anemia. Acquired aplastic anemia only affects 3 in 1,000,000 per year. [1] To put the acquired aplastic anemia odds in perspective, the chance of being struck by lightening in the United States is about 1 in 1,042,000.[2]

On the other hand, the odds of using one’s own cord blood for regenerative treatments (MSC) could be profoundly higher based on results from the 493 MSC-based clinical trials. [3] Regenerative medicine utilizes MSCs to repair tissues in the body by replacing damaged cells in muscle, bone, brain and many other cells.  There is even a current study by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center utilizing one’s own cord blood (autologous) and a donor’s cord blood (allogeneic) to treat autism. The results of the first phase were published on April 5th, 2017 and showed significant improvements utilizing one’s own cord blood (autologous) to treat autism. See our blog post about the trial for more information. [4]

References:
1. Paul Harker-Murray, M.D., Ph.D, Umbilical Cord Blood Banking “safeguarding the future?” 2013; Ioaa08OjPDA
2. How Dangerous is Lightning? 2016; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
3. Squillaro T et al. 2016; Cell Transplant. 25(5):829-48. PMID:26423725
4. Dawson et al. Autologous Cord Blood Infusions Are Safe and Feasible in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Single-Center Phase I Open-Label Trial. DOI:10.1002/sctm.16-0474

Can anyone in my family use my baby’s cord blood?

Matching is very important in order to avoid rejection complications, especially graft-versus-host disease, when the immune cells from the donated blood attack the body.

Cord blood matching is based on HLA markers. Half of the baby’s HLA markers come from the father and the other half are from the mother, thus the parents will always be a partial match. Siblings will have a 1 in 4 chance of being a perfect match. [1]

Because the cord blood cells are immunologically naïve, they can be used in a match that is less close than cells from an adult donor.

An adult donor must match at least 7 of 8 HLA markers, while cord blood only needs to match 4 of 6 HLA markers. [1]

References:
1. National Marrow Donor Program, HLA matching

How much does cord blood banking cost?

Private Cord Blood Bank
Private cord blood banking has an initial cost and an annual storage fee. The initial cost ranges from $1000-$3000. The storage fee varies from $100-$175 per year, while some will include 20 years of storage at no additional cost.

Public Cord Blood Bank
Free

When do I need to decide if I want to use a cord blood bank?

You should speak with your doctor or midwife about your cord blood banking decision between your 28th and 33th week of pregnancy.

The paperwork needed by public and private cord blood banks should be completed by the 34th week of pregnancy to make sure that you will have your cord blood collection kit in time for the birth of your baby.

I want to donate my baby's core blood to a public bank, what's next?

Please visit our public cord blood banking page and then click on your state.

How can I find a private cord blood bank to store my baby's core blood?

Please visit our private cord blood banking page for a list of private cord blood banks along with the labs they use and their accreditation level.

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