Get the Facts on Cord Blood

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If you’re expecting, your head is probably already spinning with nursery details, hospital bag checklists and visions of your child’s first birthday, first smiles and first words. But many parents may not consider the possibility of a serious illness that may someday their child even in their adult years. Storing your baby’s cord blood could give you peace of mind. The birth of your child is a once in a lifetime, potentially life-saving opportunity to preserve and save your baby’s cord blood,  a source of beneficial stem cells. July is Cord Blood Awareness month, a time to get the facts.

An Interview With Insception Cord Blood Program

1)  What is cord blood?  When is it drawn?

Cord blood is blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after the birth of a baby. It is a rich source of stem cells, notably blood stem cells. Cord blood may be collected shortly after delivery. It is a painless and risk-free procedure that your healthcare provider can perform.

2)  If your family has no history of rare diseases or cancer, why would you bank cord blood?

The causes for most cancers and diseases are unknown. The incidence of certain types of cancer is growing at alarming rates. Parents choose to bank their baby’s cord blood in order to provide themselves and their families with an additional safeguard – just in case. Recent reports indicate that one in 630 children will be diagnosed with cancer by age fifteen. However, using stem cells for cancer treatment only reflect current uses and do not consider the increasing applications and promising stem cell therapies. Therefore, potential use of stem cells in other clinical therapies could be limitless.

There is an emerging potential use of stem cells to treat heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and spinal cord injury. The likelihood of your baby using their cord blood for medical intervention at sometime in their life will greatly increase as advancements in stem cells research and treatment continue.

3)  How is it stored?

Once processed, the cord blood stem cells are frozen in a controlled rate freezer then placed into long term liquid nitrogen storage tanks. The stem cells are maintained at temperatures as low as -196 C. Current literature has reported that cord blood stem cells remain viable for at least 24 years of storage.[1] Scientists believe they may be stored indefinitely.

4)  How do I select a cord blood facility?

✓ Competence: a listing of successful transplants from their stored units

✓ Experience: the number of families who have chosen their service

✓ Credibility: partnerships with leading hospitals, strong board of governance

✓ Accreditation: AABB

✓ Facility: purpose built and secure, availability of on-site tour

✓ Quality staff: Scientists, Certified Medical Lab Technologists, Registered Nurses

5) What is the difference between Family and Public Cord Blood Banks?

Family Banking Public Banking
What is the difference? Cord blood  is stored for the exclusive use of the family Anonymous donation to the national public supply
Eligibility All families are eligible.  Not eligible if HIV, Hepatitis C or B positive. Eligibility based on parent’s health history and gestation date. Approx only 1:4 meet criteria
Collection Sites Anywhere in Canada A limited number of hospitals by 2012
Access Immediately available  if needed No guarantee that it will be saved or available to the family
Cost Initially $1,250 Annual storage  $125 Courier fee
Transplant survival rates  

Can be twice as high compared to using an unrelated cord blood unit from public bank 2

 

Lower than that of genetically related cord blood unit Complications are significantly increased

6)  Why should South Asian moms consider cord blood banking?

Umbilical cord blood may be especially promising for multicultural families. Diverse mixed heritage causes a greater variation of HLA types and there is a smaller population to draw potential donors from.  At present, many patients who need transplants especially those from ethnic minorities, are unable to find matches since the majority of donors worldwide are Caucasian.[2] Transplant survival  rates can be twice as high when using a related cord blood unit.[3] South Asian moms would have a definite advantage in having their child’s own unique stem cells stored.

7)  What are the costs involved?

Government funding is not available to cover the expenses associated with family banking. The cost varies but generally averages $1000-1200 (plus tax) initially and then $125 for the annual storage. A variety of payment options are available to help make this affordable for all.

8)  How do you donate cord blood?

In Canada, there are several family cord blood banks to choose from and limited availability for public banking. Canadian Blood Services will be accepting anonymous donations in Ottawa commencing in 2012 and then in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton as their program expands. Donated units are listed on an international registry and therefore, may not be available for your family.

For more information on cord blood banking and getting started, visit: www.insception.com



[1] Broxmeyer HE, Cord blood hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. (May 26, 2010), StemBook, ed. The Stem Cell Research Community,

StemBook, http://www.stembook.org/node/6

[2] OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network http://www.onematch.ca

[3] Outcomes after related and unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation for hereditary bone marrow failure syndromes other than Fanconi anemia http://www.haematologica.org/cgi/content/abstract/96/1/134


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  1. A. Sachdev

    Once a couple decides to donate their baby’s cord blood, the newborn baby’s cord is clamped immediately after delivery, thus limiting flow of blood from the placenta and cord to the baby. This allows a maximum volume of blood to be collected for cord blood banking.

    Some experts argue that cord clamping should be delayed until the cord stops pulsating to allow maximum blood flow from the mother to the baby. This allows the baby to receive its own stem cells at birth, thus reducing the chance of developing a disease for which it’s own stem cells would be required in the future.


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