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Umbilical cord blood banking: Is it worth it?

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Expectant parents have so many decisions to make before and after their child’s birth. Until recently, decisions related to the Umbilical cord blood banking weren’t one of those.

Back then, the umbilical cord was merely discarded after the birth of the child. Lately, expectant parents are increasingly considering new ways of handling the umbilical cord and the cord blood since new research is beginning to reveal the usefulness of these items.

Cord Blood Explained

The term ‘Cord Blood‘ refers to the type of blood found within the placenta as well as the umbilical cord of a baby. It is usually acquired from the baby’s umbilical cord after being birthed. The cord blood, as well as its tissues, has an ample amount of stem cells and other important cells. Due to its biological and chemical properties, it is now considered a life-saving treatment for various health conditions.

For instance, some medical experts now say that cord blood is useful for treating over 80 health conditions and disorders. Another game-changing element to it is its usefulness for conditions that require bone marrow transplant. Also, stem cells from the cord blood rarely carry infectious diseases, unlike those found in the bone marrow. This means that stem cells from the cord blood are less likely to be rejected when used for treatment.

Some of the health conditions that the cord blood can help in treating include tumors, cancer, immune deficiencies and disorders, genetic diseases, and blood disorders. Particularly, the stem cells in cord blood can help treat anemia, lymphoma, leukemia, diabetes, cerebral palsy, autism, and the like. With these numerous health benefits, it is no wonder that expectant parents now want to store their newborn’s cord blood. This means that storing the cord blood for future use might be worth it.

Handling Cord Blood

In today’s medical setup, parents have the option of discarding, donating, or storing their newborn’s cord blood. Whatever the decision made, there is no right or wrong one. On the one hand, if the parents agree to discard their child’s umbilical cord and everything that accompanies it, then that’s fine. On the other hand, they can also decide to store the child’s cord blood in a private cord blood bank.

Storage involves fees, of course. But the advantage of storing it is that the parents can request access to it later if needed. The parents can also decide to donate their child’s cord blood to public cord blood banks for future patients or medical research.

There are two methods of cord blood banking. They are:

  • Private Cord Banking

You can decide to store your child’s cord blood in a commercial cord blood bank for later use by your child or other family members. Storing in private cord blood banks can be expensive, especially at the initial stage. Whether you’re storing just the cord blood or the cord blood and tissues, expect nothing less than between USD$500 and USD$2,500 for the initial processing charges. In addition, you’d still have to pay an annual storage renewal fee of somewhere between USD$100 and USD$300.

Some specialists believe that spending thousands of dollars to store cord blood in a private bank isn’t worth it. This is because there’s a slim probability that the child who owns the cord blood will need it. First, the child might not have a condition that warrants the use of the blood. Besides, if the child has a health condition that requires stem cell treatment, it’s most likely that the stem cells in the cord blood would contain the same genetic defects that are now causing the health problem. This means that the child can’t make use of the cord blood.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it becomes useless. In case other siblings had their cord blood stored as well, the afflicted child can use theirs instead because there’s a higher chance that their blood would match. Also, other complications that accompany having a third-party blood donor would be out of the way.

  • Cord Blood Donation To Public Bank

Unlike private cord banks, you won’t be charged any fee for storage in a public cord blood bank. There’s no need for any payment because instead of the blood being stored for your personal use, the cord blood is being donated to the bank.

The beauty of this choice is that the cord blood is made available to individuals who need it. Most people prefer this option than storing for personal use since no financial commitment is involved. Moreover, if you or your family members later need cord blood, you could get cord blood donations as well.

Conclusion

Just like there are two sides to a coin, the decision whether storing your child’s cord blood is worth it or not is dependent on diverse factors, most of which are beyond your control. Before choosing to discard, store, or donate your child’s cord blood, try to consult your doctor first. Your doctor will guide you on how to handle the cord blood. Otherwise, if you don’t have any problem with the financial commitments, then having umbilical cord blood when it is needed is definitely worth it!

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