Is Cord Blood Necessary?

Some Concerns
stem cells
The most obvious argument against is that the odds of needing cord blood for medical treatment is very, very slim.  Below is a news release on a policy published in the July,1999 issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
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A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states there is no strong evidence to recommend routine cord blood banking for an infant’s future use.
In recent years, umbilical cord blood has been used successfully to treat a variety of pediatric genetic, hematologic and oncologic disorders. This advance has resulted in both not-for-profit and for-profit cord blood banking programs. The AAP’s statement is intended to help guide physicians in answering parents’ questions about cord blood banking.
According to the statement, “Families may be vulnerable to emotional marketing at the time of birth of a child and may look to their physicians for advice. No accurate estimates exist of the likelihood of children to need their own stored cells. The range of available estimates is from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 200,000.” For this and other reasons, it is difficult to recommend that parents store their children’s cord blood for future use. The AAP policy states:
Given the difficulty in estimating the need for using one’s own cord blood cells for transplantation, private storage of cord blood as “biological insurance” is unwise. However, banking should be considered if there is a family member with a current or potential need to undergo a stem cell transplantation.
Conditions such as leukemia or severe hemoglobinopathy may indicate the need for directed-donor cord blood banking for sibling cord blood transplantation.
Philanthropic donation of cord blood for banking at no cost for certain transplantations is encouraged. In such instances, the parents should be informed of the recommended principles.
The policy also points out that if cord clamping is done too soon after birth, the infant may be deprived of a placental blood transfusion, resulting in lower blood volume and increased risk for anemia later in life. Finally the AAP recommends that because this issue can be emotionally stressful, consent should be obtained during a prenatal visit and before the onset of labor.

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 55,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults  Read the full article on the AAP website.
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If the doubts of the AAP, weren’t enough to turn you off cord banking, the cost is enormous.  At Viacord, (see ad on left) the price begins at $1550 at birth, plus $150 for a courier to deliver the blood, plus $95 dollars for storage a year.  At these prices, that will cost you $2840 by the time your baby is 21.  
To most people, the issue comes down to money.  If you had unlimited money, you would spend a few thousand to even miniscually increase the chance of your child enjoying good health.  However, since you probably don’t have unlimited money, you will have to decide how to best spend and save for your children’s future. If you invested the Viacord fee of $1550 plus $150 for the courier at your child’s birth in the stockmarket, you would have $12,210 by the time he turned 21.  That would certainly help pay for college or even his medical insurance insurance after he graduated from college.  The odds are that your child will need a college education more than a autologous bone marrow transplant.  So if you have to chose between one or the other, make the right choice by saving the money for his future.

How to Understand Cord Blood Banking and Banks

A free, unbiased source of information

Every expectant parent today faces a tough and irreversible choice:  Should you bank your newborn child’s cord blood?  If you are like most expectant parents, you are perhaps overwhelmed and confused by the choice.  On one hand you receive tons of marketing from the cord blood companies touting the important benefits of blood banking.  On the other hand, you’ve heard that there is limited medical value to storing your child’s cord blood and the costs are very high.
cord blood banking

Here is a quick summary of why you should bank your baby’s cord blood:

It might just save your baby’s or another family member’s life at some point in the future
You will only have one chance to bank your baby’s cord blood; the moment immediately after birth.
The cord blood collection process is simple, painless, and harmless to the baby and mother.
30%-70% of people who need bone marrow transplants can not find a match.  Finding a proper match is especially problematic for African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people of mixed ethnicity.  By banking your baby’s stem cells, the odds of having a proper match for the baby or another family member improve.
Especially beneficial if a family member has a condition that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, aplastic anemia, leukemia, metabolic storage disorders and certain genetic immunodeficiencies.
Future medical advances might allow stem cells to treat even more diseases and be used in more transplant cases than current medical practices.
I’ve tried to summarize the argument for banking cord blood as succinctly as possible.  To gather more information, you can click on the links of the cord banks on the left of the page.  Each bank has a detailed (although biased) argument in favor of blood banking.  
In addition, the following articles provide some interesting reading:


Cord Blood Banks Review

Researching

blood banks

So if you have decided to bank your child’s blood, or even if you are still on the fence – you will want to research some cord blood banks.  There are a few easy ways to do this.  Search out and contact the leading cord blood banks.

When you visit the website of a cord blood bank, be sure to research the following areas:

1.  Price – Price levels differ dramatically

2.  Service levels

3.  Ensure that the banks are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB)

4. The Financial status of the cord bank – One often overlooked issue is that you are counting on this cord blood bank to be in business for 21 years.  Unlike the bank you deposit your paycheck, cord banks are not insured or regulated by the government.  If a cord bank loses its financial footing, the cord blood that you paid for may go to waste.

Once you have checked out several sites and narrowed the choice down to 2-3 cord blood banks call them up and research the following areas before making a final selection:

1.  Ask the cord bank some hard questions about their service levels and policies. See the Cord Blood Donor Website for a list of questions to ask a Cord Blood Bank.  For those of you who really want to grill the cord blood bank before making a selection, see this list of detailed questions from the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Banks.

2.  If you are the bargaining type, you might want to negotiate price.  I’ve heard many stories of people getting $100 off and some stories of people getting even more.

3.  Be sure to ship the specimen by “medical courier” not FedEx or other standard overnight shipping companies.  Most standard overnight companies cannot regulate temperature and therefore risk destroying the stem cells you paid so much to save.

4.  Most importantly, before you sign up make sure you read the fine print on the contract closely!

After researching and picking a winning cord bank, share your experience with us, so future readers can learn from you!


What is Cord Blood?

Quite simply, cord blood is the remaining blood from your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after birth.  Cord blood is loaded with our “stem cells” which are orgins of the body’s immune and blood system and may be the orgin of other organs and important systems in the body.  Stem cells are important because they have the ability to regenerate into other types of cells in the body.
A few years ago, cord blood was simply discarded as medical waste after a birth.  However in the past few years, doctors have recognized that the stem cells have unique qualities which can be used in the treatment of certain cancers.  The most common medical use is for transplantation in many situations where bone marrow is considered.  In the future, it is possible that scientists will discover more diseases that can be cured with cord blood.

Harvesting and banking cord blood is a fairly simple procedure that can be performed during vaginal or cesarian deliveries without interrupting the birth process.  The doctor or nurse will collect the cord blood after the umbilical cord has been clamped.  The collection of cord blood is not painful, intrusive or risky to the mother or baby.