“Banking your baby’s cord blood at birth is an option that many new or expectant parents are aware of. You may have many unanswered questions about the topic.”
“You may be unsure about what cord banking is, why people choose to bank their baby’s blood, and how much it costs to bank it.”
Here’s a simple breakdown of the potential benefits of cord blood banking and how to decide if it’s right for your family.
“The blood from your newborn’s birth is rich with stem cells. This blood can be used to treat many diseases and conditions.”
Healthcare professionals do not remove cord blood directly from babies or birthing parents. Rather, it comes from the umbilical cord and placenta themselves, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Hematopoietic stem cells are the cells in the body that are red and white. They can be used to make healthy new cells and replace damaged cells in people with certain health conditions.
Stem cells are used to treat many diseases. These include:
- There are genetic disorders.
- Immune system conditions.
- cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
- There are disorders of the brain.
“You might want to keep your newborn’s cord blood for several reasons.”
First, you may choose to do so if you have a family member with a medical condition that might benefit from stem cell donation. Alternatively, you might want to donate your baby’s blood to help another person in need of stem cells.
“One myth about cord banking is that a child can use the blood down the line if they have a serious medical concern. An autologous transplant is a transfer of a person’s own cord blood to treat a health condition.”
ACOG notes that autologous transfers are rare.
“Stem cells from a child with a genetic disease would not help because they contain the same genes as the cells that are involved in the disease. Your child’s stem cells can’t be used to treat leukemia.”
Most cord blood transplants are allogeneic.
“This means that your child’s stem cells would be used to treat someone else. It would require a strong match between the stem cell recipient and the stem cell donor.”
“The benefits of cord blood banking depend on where you store your child’s blood.”
If you have a child who is stored at a private institution, you can use the stem cells to benefit a family member in need.
Storing your baby’s cord blood in a public facility has benefits, too. Stem cells can help treat people with many types of health conditions, including cancers and certain metabolic and immunologic conditions, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration.
Stem cells vs. bone marrow
Stem cell transplants are more suited for treating medical conditions than bone marrow transplants.
According to ACOG, these benefits include:
- Cord blood is easier to collect than bone marrow, and collection is less invasive or painful for the donor.
- During cancer treatments, cord blood can strengthen the immune system.
- Stem cells have more uses than bone marrow because donors and recipients are easier to match and the body less likely to reject transplants.
“If you want to have your newborn’s cord blood collected, you should inform your OB- gyptian or birthing professional, such as a midwife, where you will give birth. They may need to order a kit.”
Usually, you will need to inform your healthcare team of your choice to bank your infant’s blood about 6 weeks in advance of your due date. You’ll also need to be sure you’ve signed all the required consent forms.
Cord blood extraction happens in the hospital after birth and after a healthcare professional has clamped and cut the umbilical cord. They will then use a needle to draw blood out of the cord and store in a designated bag.
The entire process is quick — about 10 minutes — and does not involve direct contact with your baby.
“Sometimes cord blood can’t be removed. Reasons may include:”
- Blood cord extracts are not done at the facility where you give birth.
- The cost of your insurance is too high for you.
- “If your baby is premature or if you have decided to delay the cord’s removal, healthcare professionals cannot take enough blood.”
- “If there is an emergency during or after birth, healthcare professionals may prioritize your and your baby’s health over cord blood banking.”
cord blood must be stored carefully to ensure its quality is preserved. Each facility has its own procedures and protocols for doing this.
The Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP) explains certain accrediting institutions oversee the regulation of cord blood storage and cautions that some private cord blood banks may not meet all these standards.
“You may want to find out if you can keep your child’s cord blood.”
- If the facility is accredited.
- If equipment failure happens, do they have electric system backups?
- What is the rate of successful transplants?
The institutions that are accredited by the cord blood bank include:
- The FACT/Joint Accreditation Committee is made up of people.
- NetCord is a foundation for accreditation of cell therapy.
- The American Association of Blood Banks.
Private and public banks have different rules for cord blood donation. Here is what to know.
Private cord banks
“Private banks are used by parents who believe that their child’s cord blood may be helpful to a family member who has a medical condition.”
“They require you to pay for the storage of your child’s cord blood on an ongoing basis.”
Private banks are not regulated the same way as public banks.
Public cord banks
Public banks are supported by government or private funds.
Currently, there is very little evidence that storing your child’s blood will help your own child fight a medical condition in the future. In fact, if your child needs stem cells to treat a condition, it’s more likely that they will receive a donation from a public cord bank.
“You don’t have to decide who will use your child’s blood when you donate to a public cord bank. You are donating your child’s blood to someone in need.”
Public cord banks are heavily regulated, and cord blood from these banks is used more frequently than cord blood from private banks. In fact, blood from public banks is used 30 times more frequently than from private banks.
Most major health organizations — including the Academy of American Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — recommend public cord blood banking.
The public cord blood banks are well regulated and should be used.
If you donate blood at a public cord bank, you will not have to pay any costs. Federal funds or private funding are usually used to support these institutions.
“Private blood cord banks charge fees, and you have to pay them for the entire time your child’s cord blood is stored in these facilities.”
Private cord banks generally charge an initial fee for collecting and processing cord blood. After these initial fees, you will also pay annual fees for ongoing storage. Private cord blood banks vary in their fee amounts, but they average about $2,000 for initial fees and between $100 and $175 each year for annual storage fees, per the AAP.
“Banking cord blood can have many benefits. It depends on a number of factors, including your family’s medical needs and your financial situation.”
“A public bank is the best place to donate your baby’s cord blood. It may help many people. Private cord banking is not recommended by most medical institutions, but it may be the right choice for you if you have a family member who needs cord blood.”
“It is a good idea to speak with your healthcare professional before making a decision about whether to bank your baby’s cord blood. They can help you choose the best blood bank for your needs.”