What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood is blood from a baby that is left inside of the umbilical cord and the placenta. This blood contains stem cells that can be used to research and treat over 70 types of diseases that range from genetic, neurological and immune disorders. For some of these conditions, stem cells are the only known treatment and for others stem cells serve as experimental research for other diseases.
How is Cord Blood Collected?
The cord blood is collected at the hospital by your doctor. However, not all hospitals offer this service, or they may require an additional fee to do so. Once the umbilical is cut and clamped after birth, the doctor uses a syringe to collect the blood. The entire collection process is completed in a matter of minutes. It is straightforward and painless to the mother and child.
However, it should be understood that there may be issues with the collection of cord blood. In some instances, there is simply not enough blood left in the cord for collection. Medical professionals see this more often with premature births, but it can happen with normal births as well.
Who Can Choose to Have Cord Blood Stored?
The decision of whether or not to store cord blood is made by the parents after birth. If you are interested in potentially storing cord blood after delivery, you should make sure that your selected hospital offers the service. You may choose to store cord blood for personal or public use.
Keep in mind, public use may be able to be used at a later date for your own needs, but it is not guaranteed. If you have a current need or would like to prepare for the future, then a private bank is the ideal choice. Many people choose to store cord blood as a type of insurance should there be health issues in the future or because they have a current need either with their new baby or another child.
How Cord Blood is Stored
Cord blood can be stored in either private or public cord blood banks. Public cord blood banks do not charge people to store it. The stem cells within the cord blood can be used by anybody who requires a need for it and happens to be a match. Some public cord blood banks allow you to store it for a family member who suffers from certain kinds of diseases. If cord blood is donated to a public bank, then the mother of the child must be tested for genetic disorders and infections. The blood is tested prior to storage.
There are also private cord blood banks. This type of bank is for an intended recipient within a family. There is a fee associated with private cord blood banks. In some instances, if your family member has a certain disease, the public bank may store for no additional feed.
Cost of Cord Blood Banking
Currently, there are about 20 public cord blood banks in the United States and over 30 private cord blood banks. Public cord blood banks are completely free and include processing, testing and storing blood. However, private cord blood banks come with a fee. On average, private cord blood banks charge between $1,400 and $2,300 to process and test the cord blood and then a yearly storage fee of $95 to $125. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover this cost.
Which Should You Choose?
The decision for public or private cord blood banking should be made with careful consideration. If you choose public banking, then there is a higher chance that the stem cells will be used to help someone in need. However, should you or your child require the cord blood at a later date, public storage does not guarantee that it will still be there. If you would like the cord blood to be available for certain, then private banking is the most appropriate option.
Importance of Cord Blood Banking
There are numerous advantages to cord blood banking. First, it can help someone who requires it for a medical purpose, whether it is for yourself or a complete stranger. It can be used to assist with a current medical condition at a later time. Additionally, it could go towards helping with research and understanding of other diseases that could influence treatment options that are available for currently incurable conditions.
Cord blood can certainly have a significant impact when it comes to assisting with medical conditions. It is important to evaluate which type of storage you would like to use and have a clear understanding of the exact costs associated with it. Whether you want to store cord blood for personal or public use, it can certainly go a long way in helping with a variety of disorders and diseases. Ask your doctor for more information about cord blood banking and your potential options.