The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) doesn’t take a position either for or against cord blood banking, but the rise in popularity has made it a serious discussion for expecting families.
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is storing the cord blood (the blood from the umbilical cord at birth) in a cord blood bank for future use. Generally, cord blood is banked to prepare for potential diseases in the immune or blood systems that may arise later in life, and in such case is used to treat such diseases. Cord blood stem cells are younger than regular stem cells and have the ability to mature into the kind of cell needed for treatment. Freezing the cells at birth stops the clock for their development, thus making them able to help with treatment. There are two ways to store cord blood, privately and publically.
Private cord blood banking
Private cord blood banking costs between $1,000 and $2,500, with an annual fee around $100. Private cord blood banking ensures that if your child develops a blood or immune disease, the blood will be there for you to use when the time comes. This is extremely beneficial for families who have a history of diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma, where risks are high in a child developing them. However, for low-risk families that don’t have a history of such diseases, benefits aren’t well known. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against private cord blood banking unless a family member has a medical condition that can be treated with stem cells.
Public cord blood banking
Public cord blood banking, unlike private banking, is free of cost and available to anyone who might need it right now. This turns off many families, because they fear their baby’s cord blood won’t be there if they happen to need it. However, most transplant physicians wouldn’t use the same child’s cord blood for treatment anyway, as it is likely the cells could develop the same disease over time. Also, there is a very remote chance your child will need it later on. ACOG recommends that physicians talk to their patients about cord blood banking and give them information on the pros and cons of both private and public cord blood banking. If you are interested in cord blood banking or you aren’t sure if it is best for your family, talk to your midwife or obstetrician.
Not choosing cord blood banking
If you choose not to bank your child’s cord blood, you still don’t have to let the blood in the umbilical cord go to waste. You can delay the cutting the cord, giving your baby the nutrient-rich blood even after birth. For more information on delayed cord cutting, click here.