During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the cord which connects the baby to the mother in the womb. This cord transports oxygen & the essential nutrients to the baby’s bloodstream through the placenta. Post child delivery, the blood that remains in the umbilical cord & placenta is known as cord blood. Umbilical cord blood is one of the richest sources of stem cells. In earlier times, umbilical cord blood was discarded as medical waste. However, people are now aware, and with the recent developments in stem cell therapies & regenerative medicine, cord blood can now be collected & processed for clinical and research purposes.
The process of collecting cord blood to extract & cryogenically freeze stem cells for the future medical use is known as umbilical cord blood or stem cell banking.
What’s special in Cord Blood and How Do You Get It?
Umbilical cord blood contains special cells known as hematopoietic stem cells that are also found in the bone marrow & peripheral blood. These stem cells have the potential to divide & differentiate into specialized cells such as red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. Thus, these stem cells have found applications in repairing & restoring the blood and the immune systems. Moreover, umbilical cord blood has approximately ten times more stem cells than those found in the bone marrow.
The collection process of umbilical cord blood stem cells is quite simple and is done at the time of the birth of your baby. It is a painless and risk-free procedure for both mother & the baby. It just takes a few minutes to complete the process. Usually, the staff present at the hospital or your doctor will place two clamps on the umbilical cord at about 10 inches apart. Then the cord will be cut, and approximately 40 mL of the blood will be collected using the needle & a bag. The collected cord blood is then sealed in a bag & sent to the laboratory for testing, processing, & storage to the stem cell bank. Also, according to the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), collection of umbilical cord blood is still possible if clamping is delayed by 30 to 60 seconds.
Who Can Opt for Cord Blood Banking?
Expectant parents can discuss umbilical cord blood banking with their health care providers. Since the process of collection of cord blood occurs at the time of birth, expecting mothers can learn more about it during their first trimester itself. It is vital to start this process early in order to make an informed decision on the basis of your available options. Parents typically have the choice to donate stem cells to a public cord blood bank, where these stem cells can be used by anyone in need or choose to preserve them at a private stem cell bank, where these stem cells will be stored exclusively for the use of child and their family.
Should You Bank Your Baby’s Cord Blood?
Cord blood banking brings in a lot of benefits includes its capability of treating 80 critical or life-threatening diseases and now that you are aware of how this actually works, the decision-making process becomes quite easy and simple! With umbilical cord blood banking, you not only protect your baby’s future health but also safeguard your family against future medical conditions. The stem cells retrieved from your baby’s cord blood can be effectively used in the treatment of various diseases in the child’s siblings or parents. Thus, you can be rest assured that with cryobanks international, these valuable stem cells will be readily accessible as and when you need them.