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What Is Cord Blood Preservation?
Research has revealed that umbilical cord blood, traditionally discarded at birth, contains special cells called stem cells, which can now be used in the treatment of over 45 life-threatening diseases. Cord blood banking allows you to preserve these stem cells for your family's future use if the need arises.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after your baby is born. It is a unique substance, which, like bone marrow, is rich in stem cells. Stem cells are the building blocks of the blood and immune system and potentially the nervous system; skin and bone tissue; and the heart, pancreas and other central body tissues. Stem cells divide to create:
- Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the brain
- White blood cells, used in the body's immune system
- Platelets, which help blood clotting
Cord blood stem cells are used in treatments for certain cancers, such as leukemia, and immune and genetic disorders. It provides a readily available source of stem cells for transplantation in many situations where bone marrow is considered. You have one opportunity to preserve your baby's cord blood; at the time of birth. The collection process, done after your baby is born, takes two to four minutes and is easy, painless and non-invasive.
Cord blood research is continually being conducted to understand its full potential in stem cell transplantation.
More opportunities are being discovered every year but, since each case is different, there is no guarantee that a cord blood transplant will be an appropriate treatment therapy or that it will provide a cure.
Why Preserve Cord Blood
Umbilical cord blood is a source of stem cells that can be used to treat over 45 malignant and non-malignant diseases including certain cancers, such as leukemia, and immune and genetic disorders. Preserving cord blood is a very simple and painless procedure, but it must be done at birth.
Other sources of stem cells include bone marrow and peripheral blood, however there are a number of benefits to using cord blood stem cells:
- There is no risk involved in the collection of cord blood.
- Cord blood is much easier to collect and harvest without the risks of general anesthesia required to harvest bone marrow.
- Cord blood is readily available when needed (if collected and stored at birth).
- Cord blood is often more compatible when used in transplants, especially when it is used within the family, creating less chance of rejection.
- Cord blood has lower procurement costs compared with peripheral blood or bone marrow harvesting.
- Cord blood has demonstrated broader potential clinical applications in initial studies for improving neural repair and bone and tissue growth.
How Is Cord Blood Preserved?
In order to preserve your child's cord blood, it first must be collected and subsequently stored. Once the blood is collected, it is stored at a long-term storage facility.
There are several different processes available for collecting and storing your baby's cord blood. The collection process itself is easy and painless, and does not interfere with the delivery or subsequent care for your newborn and yourself. Here's how it works:
- When your baby is delivered, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. Your baby is then removed from the birthing area prior to commencing the collection.
- Next, before the placenta is delivered, your obstetrician or midwife cleans a four- to eight-inch area of umbilical cord with antiseptic solution and inserts the blood bag needle into the umbilical vein. The blood flows into the bag by gravity, until it stops, after which the collection is complete. The blood bag is clamped, sealed and labeled. The collection typically takes two to four minutes. Two tubes of maternal blood are also drawn.