When you are pregnant, there are many things to consider for your child’s safety and future. You’re likely considering clothes, food, social skills, schooling, and a myriad of other decisions that await you and your child in life.
One thing you may not have considered yet is saving your child’s cord blood after the birth. Cord blood is the blood left in the umbilical cord after it has been clamped and there are a number of reasons you may look at this option.
Cord blood has a type of stem cells called hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). Stem cells are immature cells that can reproduce themselves and may turn into other types of cells. HPCs are a type of stem cell injected into bone marrow to help patients with diseases like leukemia, sickle cell anemia and lymphoma by replenishing the blood supply and help create healthy cells. HPCs from cord blood have been used in more than 30,000 transplants.
Unlike retrieving HPCs from bone marrow, it is simple to collect cord blood without any pain.
Medical conditions being investigated include diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart failure, stroke and spinal cord injuries. Cord blood has been used to regenerate brain tissue and improve motor function in children born with Cerebral Palsy.
Every person’s stem cells are unique. Your child’s cord blood contains stem cells that are a perfect match to them and most likely compatible with other children of the same parents.
Think of cord blood collection as an insurance policy. Hopefully you will never need it but, if any of your children should ever need a bone marrow transplant, you will already have a perfect match.
While the uses and benefits of cord blood are ever evolving, the costs are declining making saving it an attractive option. Outside the cost of a private blood bank, there is no known downside to collecting and saving cord blood after birth. With all the decisions you will be making for your new child, this could be a simple yet impactful one.
Jonathan Weinstein, MD, FACOG