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Lack of awareness is the #1 reason why cord blood is most often thrown away. For most pregnant mothers, their doctor does not even mention the topic. If a parent wants to save cord blood, they must be pro-active. ​
Cord blood is rich in special hematopoietic stem cells that aren’t found in blood from other parts of the body. Most cells are only able to make copies of themselves. (For instance, eye cells can only make copies of cells found in the eyes.) But these cord blood stem cells are different. Because they haven’t fully matured, they’re able to develop into different types of blood and immune-system cells.
Cord blood contains all the same components as normal blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. What makes it special is that it’s also rich in hematopoietic stem cells — special blood-forming stem cells that are similar to those found in bone marrow. These cells can be used to treat many types of diseases.
Taking time to consider helping another person when you are already busy planning for the birth of your child is greatly appreciated. A gift of cord blood may someday give someone a second chance at life.
One of the questions that all new mothers are asked during their pregnancy is if they wish to bank their cord blood after the delivery. The cord blood has stem cells within it, which in the ever-evolving field of medicine today allows for improved transplants, immune systems, and injury recovery… but they could also be used to save your child’s life one day. At birth, these stem cells are unique, smart, and extremely flexible and at this very moment are being used to treat over 80 diseases.
Prior to freezing the cells, samples are taken for quality testing. Banks measure the number of cells that are positive for the CD34 marker, a protein that is used to estimate the number of blood-forming stem cells present. Typical cost, $150 to $200 per unit. They also measure the number of nucleated cells, another measure of stem cells, both before and after processing to determine the cell recovery rate. Typical expense, $35 per unit. A portion of the sample is submitted to check that there is no bacterial or fungal contamination. Typical expense, $75 per unit. Public banks will also check the ability of the sample to grow new cells by taking a culture called the CFU assay. Typical expense, $200 to $250 per unit.
All families should decide what they want to do with their cord blood well before delivery and make the arrangements accordingly. Because the issue is complex and the decision is a personal one—it’s best to speak with your doctor about what’s right for your family.
If you’re looking to attain cord blood from a public bank, be aware that matched cord blood, as with bone marrow, can be difficult to obtain through a public cord blood bank. Once a match is ascertained, it may take valuable weeks, even months, to retrieve the match, and the cost of acquiring the cord blood from a public bank can be upwards of $40,000. When the newborn’s umbilical cord blood is banked privately, they can be retrieved quickly, and since the parents own the cord blood, banks can perform the retrieval free of charge. Learn more about public versus private cord blood banking here.
If you’re unsure about what you’d like to do, then speak with your doctor about your family’s medical history. Ask if there is a risk to your child that could be minimized with cord blood banking. In doing so, you’ll be able to find the decision which works the best for you.
Your child may never need it. Stem cell-rich cord blood can be used to treat a range of diseases, but Frances Verter, Ph.D., founder and director of Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, estimates that there’s only a 1 in 217 chance that your child will ever need a stem cell transplant with cord blood (or bone marrow). This is particularly true if the child doesn’t have a family history of diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, or sickle cell anemia. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states cord blood has been used to treat certain diseases successfully, there isn’t strong evidence to support cord blood banking. If a family does choose to bank cord blood, the AAP recommends public cord blood banking (instead of private) to cut down on expenditures.
* Annual storage fees will be charged automatically to the credit/debit card on file, on or around your baby’s birthday, unless you’ve chosen a prepay option and are subject to change until they are paid.
There are several cord blood banks that are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. Most offer information on cord blood banking and provide private cord blood banking services. With a little research, you should be able to locate a credible cord blood bank online.
What stroller should I register for? How will I find a good pediatrician? And will I ever settle on color for the nursery? There are so many things to think about before your baby is born. But here’s one more decision you might want to consider: whether to bank your baby’s cord blood.
For these and other reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and many physicians do not recommend private cord blood banking except as “directed donations” in cases where a family member already has a current need or a very high potential risk of needing a bone marrow transplant. In all other cases, the AAP has declared the use of cord blood as “biological insurance” to be “unwise.” [Read the AAP’s news release at http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/julcord.htm ]
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There are some hospitals that have dedicated collections staff who can process mothers at the last minute when they arrive to deliver the baby. However, in the United States that is the exception to the rule.
Both public and family cord blood banks must register with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and since Oct. 2011 public banks also need to apply for an FDA license. All cord blood banks are required by federal law to test the blood of the mother for infectious diseases. At public banks the screening is usually more extensive, similar to the tests performed when you donate blood. The typical expense to a public bank is $150 per unit.
Often, these diseases can also be treated with stem cells from bone marrow. But cord blood stem cells are easier to collect, can be stored for longer, and can be given to more people. They can also help boost a patient’s immune system during cancer treatment — something bone marrow stem cells can’t do.
Yes, if you have any sick children who could benefit from umbilical cord blood. Public banks such as Carolinas Cord Bank at Duke University and private banks such as FamilyCord in Los Angeles offer programs in which the bank will assist with cord blood processing and storage if your baby has a biological sibling with certain diseases. FamilyCord will provide free cord blood storage for one year. See a list of banks with these programs at parentsguidecordblood.org/help.php.
Cord blood banking is a simple and painless procedure that could save lives. Immediately after birth, cord blood is harvested — or removed from the clamped-off umbilical cord. After that, the blood is frozen and stored (or “banked”) for future use. When stored properly, it’s thought that cord blood can last indefinitely.
This procedure has a high success rate and every single one of us has a donor we could match with. If there is a hereditary illness in your immediate family, it would be beneficial to invest in storing the blood. Luckily for parents who are investing in their baby’s cord blood,  it is tax deductible. The government does smile upon your decision to invest in the health of your loved ones.
Cord blood banks are very expensive. Family private cord blood bank companies charge between $1,300 – $3,000 plus an annual fee of about $90 – $175. As an example, Cord Blood Registry requires a one-time payment of $1,650. After the first year, they charge an annual fee of $150/year. Viacord’s starting price is $1,750 for the first year and a $175 annual fee.
“One of the biggest concerns families have about publicly banking cord blood is: Will it be available to them, if needed? The answer is a little complicated,” Dr. Aghajanian says. “Cord blood donated to a public bank can be pulled for a family of origin.” As long as it is still available, of course.
However, most cord banks state one of the key factors in successful cord blood treatment is the volume of blood which is infused with stem cells: the greater the cord blood volume, the greater the chance of a successful outcome for the treatment.
FAQ172: Designed as an aid to patients, this document sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. The information does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice. Variations, taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique to the institution or type of practice, may be appropriate.
After your unit arrives at ViaCord’s Processing Lab, specialists will process your baby’s stem cells to maximize cell yield. They are then transferred to a transplant-ready cryobag for storage at or below ≤ -170º C (brrr). 
Stem cells may be used in transplants to treat people with blood cancers and other blood malignancies. These transplants can help the body replenish the blood stream with healthy cells. Stem cells are already used in the treatment of more than 70 diseases—lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, immune deficiency, and metabolic diseases. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute also are looking into their potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and heart disease, among other conditions.
In order to preserve more types and quantity of umbilical cord stem cells and to maximize possible future health options, Cryo-Cell’s umbilical cord tissue service provides expectant families with the opportunity to cryogenically store their newborn’s umbilical cord tissue cells contained within substantially intact cord tissue. Should umbilical cord tissue cells be considered for potential utilization in a future therapeutic application, further laboratory processing may be necessary. Regarding umbilical cord tissue, all private blood banks’ activities for New York State residents are limited to collection, processing, and long-term storage of umbilical cord tissue stem cells. The possession of a New York State license for such collection, processing and long-term storage does not indicate approval or endorsement of possible future uses or future suitability of these cells.
Parents who wish to donate cord blood are limited by whether there is a public bank that collects donations from the hospital or clinic where their baby will be born. Search our list of public banks in your country. Parents who wish to store cord blood and/or cord tissue for their family can find and compare private banks in your country. Family banks usually offer payment plans or insurance policies to lower the cost of cord blood banking.
Cord blood contains mesenchymal stem cells but is much more abundant in hematopoietic stem cells. Cord tissue, on the other hand, contains some hematopoietic stem cells but is much richer in mesenchymal stem cells. Cord tissue, or Wharton’s jelly, is the protective layer that covers the umbilical cord’s vein and other vessels. Its MSCs can become a host of cells including those found in the nervous system, sensory organs, circulatory tissues, skin, bone, cartilage, and more. MSCs are currently undergoing clinical trials for sports injuries, heart and kidney disease, ALS, wound healing and autoimmune disease. As with cord blood, cord tissue is easily collected at the type of birth and holds great potential in regenerative medicine. Learn more about cord tissue banking here.
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The use of cord blood is determined by the treating physician and is influenced by many factors, including the patient’s medical condition, the characteristics of the sample, and whether the cord blood should come from the patient or an appropriately matched donor. Cord blood has established uses in transplant medicine; however, its use in regenerative medicine is still being researched. There is no guarantee that treatments being studied in the laboratory, clinical trials, or other experimental treatments will be available in the future.
Medical staff at the public cord blood bank will check to see if you can donate. If you have had a disease that can be given to another person through blood-forming cells, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV (the AIDS virus), you will likely not be able to donate. However, other medical reasons may still allow you to donate, for example, hepatitis A or diabetes only during your pregnancy (gestational diabetes). The staff at the public cord blood bank will tell you.
Preserving stem cells does not guarantee that the saved stem cells will be applicable for every situation. Ultimate use will be determined by a physician. Please note: Americord Registry’s activities are limited to collection of umbilical cord tissue from autologous donors. Americord Registry’s possession of a New York State license for such collection does not indicate approval or endorsement of possible future uses or future suitability of cells derived from umbilical cord tissue.
Most public banks only work with selected hospitals in their community. They do this because they need to train the staff who will collect the cord blood, and they want the blood to be transported to their laboratory as quickly as possible. A parent who wants to donate should start by finding public banks in your country.
Private companies offer to store cord blood for anyone who wants it done, whether or not there is any medical reason known to do so at the time. The fee for private storage varies, but averages about $1,500 up front and $100 per year for storage. When there is no one in the family who needs a transplant, private storage of a newborn’s cord blood is done for a purely speculative purpose that some companies have termed “biological insurance.”
Genes: Segments of DNA that contain instructions for the development of a person’s physical traits and control of the processes in the body. They are the basic units of heredity and can be passed down from parent to offspring.
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Because of the invasive procedure required to obtain the bone marrow, scientist continued to look for a better source, which eventually lead to the discovery of similar stem cells in cord blood in 1978. Cord blood was used in its first transplant in 1988, and cord blood has since been shown to be more advantageous than other means of acquiring similar stem cells and immune system cells. This is because umbilical cord blood can be considered naïve and immature compared to other sources. Cord blood has not been exposed to disease or environmental pollutants, and it is more accepting of foreign cells. In this case, inexperience makes it stronger.
For example, if your baby were born with a genetic condition, such as spina bifida, her stem cells would carry this condition as well and therefore couldn’t be used to treat her. Similarly with leukemia, the stem cells may already have pre-leukemic changes.
During pregnancy, the placenta and blood within it serve as the lifeline of nourishment from mother to baby through the umbilical cord. Following the birth, these items are usually discarded. However, cord blood is a rich source of adult stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow. These blood-forming stem cells create all of a person’s blood cells: red cells that carry oxygen, white cells that fight disease, and platelets that help blood clot. It is because of this multipurpose functionality that cord blood is capable of treating more than 80 different diseases, and has saved thousands of lives.
As noted earlier, with better matching, there is a greater chance of success and less risk of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) in any stem cell transplant. With cord blood, the baby’s own cells are always a perfect match and share little risk. When using cord blood across identical twins, there is also a very low chance of GvHD although mutations and biological changes caused by epigenetic factors can occur. Other blood-related family members have a 35%–45% chance of GvHD, and unrelated persons have a 60%–80% chance of suffering from GvHD.

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