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Cord Blood Information – FAQ about Cord Blood

What is cord blood and what are the benefits of cord blood banking?

  • The blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord after it has been cut is called cord blood which is rich in stem cells. These valuable cells which are genetically unique to your baby and family, can only be collected in the minutes after your baby’s birth.
  • Preserving your newborn’s stem cells is called cord blood banking and allows you to have your baby’s cord blood saved for potential medical uses to treat life-threatening diseases. If you do not choose to bank your baby’s cord blood, it will be discarded after birth.
  • You have only one chance to save your baby’s cord blood for your family since it can only be collected immediately after birth.
  • Many expectant families choose to bank their baby’s cord blood for peace of mind, knowing that stem cells can be lifesaving to their baby and family.
  • Saving your baby’s cord blood is important since using your own family’s cord blood, if needed, has been shown to have significant advantages compared to using cord blood from an unrelated donor.
  • Your baby will be a perfect genetic match for the stem cells as will the baby’s mom due to her carrying the child during pregnancy.
  • Dad will share at least 50% genetic matching with the baby.
  • It is twice as likely that siblings will be able to use each other’s cord blood stem cells compared to each other’s bone marrow.
  • First and second degree relatives may also be able to use your newborn’s stem cells if they are a sufficient genetic match.
  • Cord blood stem cells have current and emerging uses in medical treatment:
  • Today nearly 70 serious diseases have been treated with cord blood stem cells including leukemia, other cancers and blood disorders.
  • Doctors are working to develop stem cell treatments for heart disease, juvenile diabetes, brain injury and more.

My family does not have a history of diseases, so my doctor did not recommend.”

  • Genetic history is only one risk factor for disease, and doesn’t guarantee immunity. Many other things, like environmental factors, can contribute heavily to disease.
  • Ultimately we can’t predict what our future health will be and one advantage of saving your own cord blood stem cells it gives you access to a wider range of treatment options in the future should you need it.
  • The science of cord blood stem cells is changing very rapidly. In fact, just last month new physician guidelines recognized the value of cord blood stem cells and encouraged health care providers to educate all expectant parents on their options for preserving cord blood stem cells.
  • It is fairly typical in healthcare and medicine to see a range of opinions; however we continue to see progress being made in this area
  • Your baby will be a perfect genetic match and may use these stem cells to treat nearly 70 diseases including cancers and blood disorders. Doctors are working to develop stem cell treatments for heart disease, juvenile diabetes, brain injury and more.
  • Your baby’s biological siblings are twice as likely to be able to use your newborn’s cord blood stem cells for treatment of cancers or genetic diseases versus bone marrow stem cells.
  • Mom will be able to use her baby’s stem cells due to a compatibility that occurs during gestation.
  • Dad has a 50% genetic match with the newborn.
  • First and second degree relatives may also be able to use your newborn’s stem cells if they are a sufficient genetic match.

What provider do you recommend?

  • We recommend Cord Blood Registry (CBR) because it is the leader in the industry, the world’s largest and most experienced cord blood bank.
  • CBR has significantly more experience in providing samples for transplant than any other family cord blood bank.
  • CBR is recommended most by Ob/Gyns and chosen most by expectant families.
  • CBR saves more cells for your family with the highest published rate of recovering cells from cord blood (99%) which is important if you ever need them.
  • CBR has a highly safe lab and storage location in Tucson, Arizona.
  • CBR has a proven track record of financial and long-term stability, and its lab has been processing cord blood since 1992.
  • CBR has programs to make cord blood banking affordable:
    • A payment program available that makes the monthly cost less than the average cell phone or utility bill,
    • A Gift Registry program that allows your family and friends to help in providing this gift to your child and
    • The Designated Transplant Program where certain families qualify for free cord blood banking. More info

Diseases Treated

Doctors and scientists, world wide, are revolutionizing new areas of medicine with stem cells. By banking your newborn’s cord blood, you can provide your baby with exciting new treatment options to:

  • Repair nerve cells to heal brain and spinal cord injuries or brain injury caused by stroke.
  • Regenerate cells to form new blood vessels: to treat heart and circulatory disease.
  • Replace damaged cells to improve recovery from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or injury.
  • Regenerate brain cells to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

These exciting advances are in addition to nearly 70 serious diseases already being treated by stem cells, saving kids from leukemia, cancers, and blood disorders right now.

See a List of all Treated Diseases

Saving your baby’s cord blood is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To help you make as informed a choice as possible, here are answers to some common uncertainties:

Q: Since we don’t have a family history of disease, is banking cord blood really necessary?

A: Family history is only one risk factor for disease, and doesn’t guarantee immunity. Many other things, like environmental factors, can contribute heavily to disease. And cord blood holds tremendous promise for treating injuries like brain damage, spinal cord repair, and tissue growth – possibilities no one can rule out.

Q: My OB didn’t mention it to me, so can it really be that important?

A: Many states now have legislation that requires OBs share this important information with their pregnant patients. Your state might not have passed this law yet and/or your doctor might not know a lot of details.

Q: We want to bank our baby’s cord blood, but how can we afford it?

A: CBR has three programs to help: payment plans as low as $59 a month; a Gift Registry that lets friends and families contribute to your enrollment; and a Designated Transplant Program where certain families qualify for free cord blood banking.

We asked OBs to answer the top 3 questions pregnant women have about cord blood banking.

Q: Should I bank my baby’s cord blood?

A: Yes, I recommend it. Research shows that cord blood stem cells have the potential to develop into – or repair – almost all types of cells and tissues in the body. So saving your child’s stem cells secures your best treatment options today and tomorrow.

  • Dr.Karen Smith, Ob-Gyn and Mom to Emma and Sarah

Q: What are the odds that my family will need to use stem cells?

A: The odds that a family will need to use stem cells have been reported as frequent as 1 in 200, however these odds do not include the anticipated use of stem cells to treat disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, brain injury and other common disorders. As advances in medicine continue to increase, so too will the expected use of stem cells.

  • Dr.Brian Bernick, Ob-Gyn

Q: Which family cord blood bank should I use?
A: I recommend CBR to all my patients. They’re the most experienced bank in the world, they recover the most cells, and they’re stable – meaning they’ll be here to protect your family for a lifetime.

– Dr. Kim Powers, Ob-Gyn and Mom to Terrence and Laura

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are considered to be the body’s “master” cells because they create all other tissues, organs, and systems in the body. The stem cells found in cord blood are the building blocks of your blood and immune system and most readily reproduce into:

The Stem Cell

Red Blood Cells – which carry oxygen to all the cells in the body
White Blood Cells – which fight infection
Platelets – which aid in clotting in the event of injury

There are three sources where stem cells are commonly found and they are:

  • Bone Marrow
  • Peripheral Blood (the blood that circulates through your body)
  • Cord Blood

The ability of cord blood stem cells to differentiate, or change into other types of cells in the body is a new discovery that holds significant promise for improving the treatment of some of the most common diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.

There are many exciting advances happening with stem cells. Right now, doctors are focusing on newborn stem cells and their potential to:

  • Regenerate brain cells—to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Repair nerve cells—to heal brain and spinal cord injuries or brain damage caused by stroke
  • Regenerate cells to form new blood vessels—to treat heart and circulatory disease
  • Replace damaged cells—to improve recovery from cardiovascular disease, a heart attack, or injury. By saving your newborn’s stem cells, you provide your child with options to benefit from these emerging therapies.

Although they are routinely discarded, newborn stem cells have unique biology that is important in medical treatments. Newborn stem cells are 8-10 times more proliferative than adult cells, and are much more compatible with family members versus adult cells. For example, siblings are twice as likely to be compatible with their newborn cells compared to their same adult stem cells. And unlike adult cells, newborn stem cells are “healthy” in that they have not been exposed to viruses, pollution, or disease in the vast majority of cases.

Cord blood is the blood rich in stem cells that remains in a baby’s umbilical cord and placenta following birth.

Parents have the choice, immediately after the birth of their baby, to preserve their baby’s cord blood for use by their own family, or donate it to a public bank (if available), or to throw it away. Regrettably, this amazing resource is being discarded, its potential benefits lost forever, due to lack of knowledge by parents nationwide.

Since your baby’s stem cells are genetically unique to your child and family, and using cells from a relative is the best source of stem cells in treating diseases, cord blood banking has been called a type of “biological insurance”.

Banking cord blood is an important investment that you can make in your family’s health and helps ensure the best chance of survival when the cells are used. In fact, newborn stem cells from a relative have resulted in more than double the survival rates compared to stem cells from unrelated donors. And your child and family may have significantly better options in medical treatments or cures for cancers as well as common conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

In addition, they can be immediately available if they are needed which can minimize disease progression. Because the cells found in cord blood are “naive,” or undeveloped, the cells do not have to “match” the patient as closely as bone marrow and therefore can be used by siblings or other relatives in many circumstances where bone marrow stem cells cannot.

Lastly, unlike the adult stem cells in your body, your newborn’s stem cells are “healthy” as they have not been exposed to environmental contamination or viruses.

Considering that nearly 70 serious diseases are already being successfully treated with stem cells, and the fact that the number will very likely increase in the coming years, cord blood banking is a prudent investment in your family’s health.

Family Banking & Public Donation

Many parents wonder what the differences are between Family Cord Blood Banking and Public Donation of their newborn’s stem cells. The following comparison table provides a brief view of these two important options.

Questions Family Banking Public Donation
Why participate/enroll? Family banking your newborn’s stem cells guarantees your newborn’s sample will be saved for your family members to treat life-threatening diseases. Public donation of stem cells increases our national supply of cord blood samples to help save people needing a suitable stem cell match.
What are the transplant survival rates? Survival rates using a relative’s cord blood can be twice as high compared to using an unrelated sample from a public bank. In general survival rates using cord blood from an unrelated donor are lower that of genetically-related cord blood stem cells from a private bank. Complications are significantly increased using unrelated stem cells.
Who is eligible to participate? All families worldwide are eligible to participate in Family Banking programs. Typically, only samples that may be HIV positive would be excluded. Eligibility is based on the parent’s health history and the existence of a public donation program at the delivering hospital.
How many hospitals offer cord blood collection? Most hospitals in the United States offer cord blood collection through a private banking service. A limited number of hospitals offer public donation.
What will happen to my baby’s cord blood after it’s collected? Your baby’s cord blood is processed and stored exclusively for future use by your family. Eligible donations are processed and stored for use by patients searching for a donor, or are used for research purposes.
If needed, how long does it take to receive the banked stem cells? Family banked samples are available immediately for use and can be released to the patient’s physician quickly. By agreeing to donate your baby’s cord blood, there is no guarantee that it will be saved or available to you in the future.
Does it cost anything to bank cord blood? It typically costs between $1,500-$1,900 to collect and process your baby’s cord blood. Annual storage fees are approximately $125. There is no cost to collect and publicly donate your newborn’s cord blood. Public banks charge approximately $35,000 for each sample released for transplant.

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