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Cord Blood Banking: The Pros and Cons & Whether It’s Right For Your Family

If you are an expectant parent, learn more about cord blood banking pros and cons and decide whether or not it is right for your family.

Few things in the world compare to pregnancy and the joys that come along with it. As exciting as this time is for expectant parents, there is much to discuss before the baby’s arrival. In addition to financially preparing for parenthood, parents should begin to discuss delivery plans and post-birth options as well. Sure, parenting books go a long way, but there are many other things that soon-to-be moms and dads should consider, like whether or not they will bank or donate their baby’s cord blood.

There is a lot to consider when discussing post-birth plans, and that is why parents must weigh out the cord blood banking pros and cons before making a decision.

Before we talk about cord blood banks, let’s talk about something more people are familiar with: blood banks. They are one of the most essential facilities all around the world, with an estimated 6.8 million people donating each year in the United States alone. Just as each person is different, not all blood is the same either, with there being many different blood types and plasmas, all of which can help save lives for those who might need it

Recently, blood from different sources aside from the usual arm withdrawal has begun to show exciting results in treating some diseases, more specifically umbilical cord blood. Blood taken from umbilical cords contain special cells called hematopoietic stem cells and are today used in over 80 diseases including numerous types of malignancies, anemias, inherited metabolic disorders and deficiencies of the immune system. They are also being researched in a new and exciting area known as regenerative medicine, to potentially regenerate or facilitate the repair of cells damaged by disease, genetics, injury or simply aging by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms.

Similar to bone marrow, these cells can be transplanted from one person to another in an attempt to treat certain conditions but with a higher rate of success. Now just like normal blood banks, umbilical cord blood banks are a way of storing these blood cells to be potentially used for medical use in the future if ever needed. Understanding just how the process works, the difference between private and public banks, and weighing the cord blood banking pros and cons can help you determine whether it is right for you and your family.

What Is Cord Blood?

Cord blood is the blood from a newborn baby that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta. What makes this blood unique is the special hematopoietic stem cells, which are immature cells that can mature into any other type of blood cell in the body. The collection of cord blood is harmless, and expectant parents are able to decide before delivery whether they want to bank or donate the blood instead of discarding it. If parents choose to donate or bank their newborn’s cord blood, arrangements should be made months ahead of the due date.

Should I Go With a Private or Public Bank?

When choosing where to store cord blood, you might be faced with the choice of a private or public bank, both with their own pros and cons.

Private banks will allow you to collect and store cord blood and tissue in their facility to be used by your child or someone in your immediate family, meaning that you will own this cord blood and tisee collection and may use it how you would like. However, it does come at a cost that may not be sustainable for all families. Although it is more affordable than ever, it may not be the best choice for a family who might already have financial struggles or other priorities.

Since there is ownership of your own child’s cord blood, you may choose to use it for a relative if they have a condition the stem cells could treat. Conversely, it can be difficult or near impossible for a person to use their own cord blood to treat any genetic or blood diseases since it already contains the genes responsible for causing them.

If you choose to donate to a public bank, there may be a collection fee from the hospital, but the donation and storage of the cord blood is free. However, this does mean that you no longer own this blood sample, and it may be used any way the bank sees fit, be it for research or stem cell treatment for somebody else. Since public banks are more common, they will have a wider variety of cord blood to use for patients who might require a close match to their own blood cells. This is helpful for finding the right stem cells from another person’s cord blood that may help treat genetic and blood diseases when they cannot use their own if they had a private collection.

Cord Blood Banking: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Cord blood is less likely to be rejected compared to bone marrow stem cells
  • Can increase immune system support in cancer patients
  • Risk-free and painless to collect
  • Blood can be stored indefinitely
  • It can help save your baby’s life or someone in your family
  • Once in a lifetime opportunity

Cons

  • Storing in a private bank can be costly
  • Not all collections can be used to store
  • No direct benefit in using a person’s own cord blood to treat genetic diseases
  • Although it’s also a pro, the con would be that because this is once in a lifetime opportunity, you can only have one chance to complete the process

For the most part, the pros heavily outweigh the cons when it comes to cord blood banking, and depending on your own needs and medical history with genetic diseases; it can be extremely beneficial for your family down the line.The best course of action would be to first discuss cord blood banking pros and cons with your partner.

For nearly 20 years, AlphaCord has helped tens of thousands of families to preserve their newborn’s valuable stem cells through cord blood and tissue banking. If you have questions about cord blood banking pros and cons, please do not hesitate to contact the AlphaCord professionals.

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