April 17, 2015

When it comes to umbilical cord blood banking, many people ask the question, “How are cells taken from cord blood different from other types of stem cells?” Well, there any many things that newborn and adult stem cells have in common, there are also many differences. Both are able to differentiate to form various types of cells and are proven successful in treating people for diseases, but the primary difference is that newborn stem cells (found in cord blood) are biologically younger than adult stem cells taken from sources such as bone marrow. This means that newborn cells saved through umbilical cord blood banking are more flexible and therefore have more treatment possibilities than adult stem cells. For those unfamiliar with stem cell research, both of these types of cells are different from the embryonic stem cells you may have heard about, so collecting and using them for cancer, leukemia, or anemia treatment is not unethical or controversial.

In the early or later stages of pregnancy, an expecting mother can opt for private cord blood banking through CariCord, which stores her newborn’s cord blood stem cells in a private bank for personal use, in the event that they are ever needed. In the event that a cell transplant becomes necessary, these “newborn” adult stem cells carry less risk of complications than adult stem cells. Because they were stored in a private bank, they are readily available for immediate treatment, which can stop the progression of a disease earlier. This is not always an option with other types of stem cells, as you may have to wait for them to become available, to use them in a cancer or anemia treatment.

Another factor that makes cord blood stem cells unique is they are collected at the birth of a child, so they are not exposed to common viruses and environmental factors that is often the case with adult stem cells. This can make them more effective in treatments, and increase the usability of the cells in performing a specific treatment.

Expecting mothers in the earlier pregnancy stages should research the options for saving or donating their child’s cells to a private or public cord blood bank. That way, you can make an informed decision in the later stages of pregnancy, to ensure that your child’s cord blood cells are potentially utilized rather than discarded at birth. You never know whether or not your child’s cord blood will save a life, so it is good to consider donating it to a public bank if you opt not to store it for future personal use.

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