In the last few years, there has been a lot of chatter in the parent world about “cord blood banking.” While it seems like a smart idea on the surface, many parents can be overwhelmed by the concept, all the steps involved, the scary “what if’s” that are at the premise of cord blood banking and, the price tag. The team at Gugu Guru knows that when you’re expecting a baby, you’re likely already feeling “decision fatigue” and a high sense of skepticism around what is necessary for your family versus just a nice to have, so we wanted to break cord blood banking down to help you understand if it’s right for you. Below find our Cord Blood Banking 101 overview in an easy to digest Q&A format, including the pros and cons of this offering. Read on to learn more about cord blood banking for your new baby from LifeBankUSA.
So, what is cord blood banking?
In a nutshell, cord blood banking is the act of saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood and its stem cells at birth in case you may need them in the future. The stem cells are harvested, processed and then “cryopreserved” (a fancy word for freezing) at a bank for your potential future medical use. A baby’s umbilical cord is rich in stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of life threatening disorders and diseases. The idea is that when you store your baby’s cord blood, you are investing in your baby’s future in the event that he or she may need his or her own stem cells. And, not necessarily just that particular child of yours, but often siblings are a match for each other too – though not always.
Why harvest from the umbilical cord blood?
While the umbilical cord blood is not the only source of stem cells in your body, it is very quick and easy to collect and bank stem cells from cord blood. On the other hand, it currently requires lengthy, invasive procedures to tap into the body’s other sources (e.g., bone marrow) if you were to need your stem cells – and this is why it is recommended by many experts and physicians to harvest from the umbilical cord at birth.
Is there an expiration date on stem cells and how long they can be frozen for?
According to AABB, there is not enough scientific data to quantify the shelf life of frozen stem cells since the act of cord blood banking hasn’t been around that long. However, researchers and scientists say that stem cells frozen over 20 years ago are still as fresh today as they were when harvested.
What can cord blood or stem cells be used for in the future?
From cancers to blood disorders to genetic diseases – cord blood stem cells can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases today such as leukemia, sickle-cell anemia, and some metabolic disorders (source: Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.) Privately storing your baby’s cord blood is a way to ensure that this resource is available for your family if ever needed for current applications, experimental uses and for any treatments that may arise in the future. Cord blood is also being used experimentally right now in clinical trials to treat children with cerebral palsy and autism through Duke University Medical Center.
When do you actually “bank” the cells?
Cord blood banking can only be done at birth with the help of a doctor or midwife, using the kit provided through the cord blood banking company the parents have selected. It is important to remember that cord blood banking can only be performed by a doctor or midwife, and only at the moments of birth – you cannot go back and bank cord blood later. Therefore, we highly recommend researching cord blood banking companies while pregnant and having a plan in place well beforehand. Here’s a helpful resource from Parents.com on Comparing Cord Blood Banking Companies.
What is the biggest benefit to cord blood banking?
Perhaps the greatest benefit is that storing your child’s stem cells is a once in a lifetime opportunity and an investment in the safety and security of your family’s future. By storing your baby’s stem cells privately, it means they will be available if you should ever need them. Without stem cells privately stored, your family would need to undergo other procedures (e.g., harvesting from bone marrow) to extract stem cells or search through public registries which can be extremely time consuming if a viable unit is even found. The long term investment of making sure your baby has his or her own stem cells banked can be considered priceless by many.
OK, so what is the biggest risk with cord blood banking?
Think of cord blood banking like any voluntary insurance plan you might carry. You may never need to use life insurance, for example, and if not – then you are out that investment. That is a financial risk and one that may need to be considered heavily if the cost would qualify as a large investment for your family. However, some of the payment plans that are offered by private cord blood banks may help to mitigate that risk by allowing you to pay over time versus in one lump sum. Of course, even if the stem cells are not used for treatment you will still have the added piece of mind that they are there for your family.
I am giving birth soon! How do I bank my baby’s cord blood? What if I am giving birth at home?
When you work with a cord blood banking company, the company sends you a compact collection kit that contains all of the necessary materials for the collection to be performed. Simply bring this kit to the hospital in your labor and delivery bag. The cord blood banking company will subsequently send a medical courier that will come to the hospital to get the kit from you after delivery. If you’re giving birth at home, the process is the same – you would receive a kit and your midwife would perform the collection, and a courier comes to pick up the cells. It’s all a very quick and simple process.
How much does it cost normally? Is there a payment plan?
According to Babycenter, cord blood banks can charge a first-year processing fee that ranges from about $1,500 to $3,000, plus annual storage costs of about $90 to $175. The banks typically offer payment plans, ranging from no-interest installments paid over a few months to longer-term financing with interest.
Thank you to LifebankUSA for making this sponsored post possible. A little on LifebankUSA:
LifebankUSA is a stem cell banking company that is truly committed to research to advance the field of stem cell uses, ultimately helping to increase the value of your family’s investment. LifebankUSA is able to provide the most comprehensive stem cell banking options for new parents and is an expert in not just storing your baby’s precious stem cells but also in guiding your family in the use of them. After your baby’s stem cells are stored your relationship with LifebankUSA does not end. LifebankUSA is all about research and advancements; so, they will continue to update you on treatment advances using stem cells. Plus, LifebankUSA prides itself on their customer relationships and are always available to support to your family with any questions. Furthermore, if the case happens where you do need the cells, LifebankUSA will assist and support you in ensuring all pre-release testing and documentation is completed and coordinating the release of the stem cells.
Lifebank also has amazing discounts for veterans; contact Lifebank to learn more about their Veteran’s Discount!