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Umbilical Cord Blood Banking - A Responsible Decision

What Is Umbilical Blood Cord Banking?

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that banking umbilical cord blood had many advantages. At present, many soon-to-be parents opt to store their offspring’s cord blood in an effort to protect the unborn child and his or her siblings from serious diseases that may affect them later in life.

In the womb, the unborn child is connected to his or her mother by way of the umbilical cord. This is how the baby receives much-needed nutrients and oxygen. Scientists discovered that the blood found in this piece of tissue contained hematopoietic stem cells, which have the ability to replicate an infinite number of times. Studies showed that these cells could cure blood diseases and a number of immunologic problems. The umbilical cord also houses progenitor cells. They are able to morph into any type of cell and are more specific compared to the stem cells.

 

How Is Cord Blood Collected?

Cord blood collection should be done right after the umbilical cord is cut. A special kit will be needed to perform this procedure. It must be pre-ordered from a public or private blood cord bank. The specimen must be collected less than 10 minutes after the child is born to ensure that the cord blood does not become contaminated. After the liquid is extracted, both the umbilical cord and the placenta are taken to the bank. This is done in an effort to extract more of the precious hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells.

The specimen will undergo various tests like tissue typing and HIV screening. It will also be scanned for signs of Hepatitis B and C. If the sample is found free from all possible diseases, a cryptopreservant will be added to the blood. This will ensure that the cells will survive the cryogenic phase and remain viable should it be required in the future.

The Benefits Of Banking Umbilical Cord Blood

Recently, scientists have discovered that the tissue of the umbilical cord or Wharton's jelly is rich in Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). They aid in the creation of cartilage, connective tissue and bone. MSC mediates our body's response to damaged cells. Although human MSC has yet to be used for scientific studies, samples from animals are being used as an attempt to cure parkinson's disease, lung cancer, type 1 Diabetes and even cartilage injuries. This another good reason to consider banking umbilical cord blood.

Should the child ever require the cord blood, the treatment will be termed autologous. If a family member uses the specimen, it will be then called an allogenic procedure. Parents will be given custody over the cord blood of the child until he or she reaches the legal age. It should also be noted that unlike bone marrow transplants, banking umbilical cord blood can save the lives of individuals who are not a perfect 6/6 match. Those who have a 4/6 match with the donor will be able to benefit from the stored specimen as well. HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) typing is required. This means that a wider range of people may benefit from the cord blood specimen.

How Much Will This Procedure Cost?

Banking umbilical cord blood can be costly. Most blood cord banks charge a collection fee that ranges between $1000 and $2000. A maintenance fee of $100 is also charged every year. There are banks that provide you with the option to pay the full amount upfront or pay on an installment basis. Some even allow virtual baby showers wherein your friends can pool their resources towards the procedure.

For those planning to have a child or expecting one soon, it would be best to consult with your spouse about banking your future child's blood. Banking umbilical cord blood may seem a bit expensive for some parents. However, it may save the life of your child or that of a family member.

By maria codilla, published at 02/07/2012
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