March 25, 2015

Cord blood banking is making the treatments and cures of many fatal diseases possible. Since the first successful transplant in 1988, diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma, and many other immunosuppressive and genetic disorders are able to be successfully treated with the use of cord blood transplants. Stem cells from in the umbilical cord can develop into a wide range of tissue cells including brain, heart, and liver cells. These cells, when introduced to damaged or diseased areas of the body, are also able to replace or prompt healing of cells that are abnormal, weakened, or destroyed by the disease. The umbilical cord is a rich source of these stem cells and provides a highly reliable alternative source of these stem cells compared to bone marrow.

The reason for choosing cord blood banking differs among every family. Many parents decide on cord blood banking during their early stages of pregnancy after hearing from their medical care provider about the potential health benefits it can provide for their child. For others, it may be word of mouth, after learning of successful treatments another family had as a result of cord blood banking. Some families may make the choice in response to their own family medical history and decide cord blood banking is the best preventative measure they can make for their unborn child. Cord blood banking means your child will always have perfectly genetically matched stem cells stored and available should they ever need them for any future medical treatment.

Umbilical cord blood banking not only benefits the child whose stem cells were saved, but those stem cells can potentially be of value to siblings and parents as well. There are two types of stem cell transplants: autologous, where a person receives a transplant of his or her own stem cells, and allogeneic, a transplant from a matching related or unrelated donor. With some genetic diseases or conditions, an autologous stem cell transplant would not be ideal because those stem cells most likely carry the same genetic markers for whatever disease is being treated. But if the stem cells of an unaffected brother or sister have also been saved with cord blood banking, those cells could potentially be used to cure the ill sibling. For this reason, it is beneficial to bank the cord blood of all children born into a family.

Like many decisions you make for your child throughout your stages of pregnancy, umbilical cord blood banking is one to look at closely, to consider if it is right for your family. This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision and gift you can give to your child and you want to be sure you make the right choice. The gift of future good health is one you know you’ll never regret.

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