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Stem Cell Bank 101: Parents Guide To Cord Blood

Ahh, congratulations on another beautiful milestone in your life! Before you embark on your journey of parenthood, you’ll have nine months to prepare for your little bundle of joy. And let us not forget, that pregnancy itself–although short in comparison to a lifetime of parenting–is its own separate journey for you and your partner. It’s […]

Ahh, congratulations on another beautiful milestone in your life! Before you embark on your journey of parenthood, you’ll have nine months to prepare for your little bundle of joy. And let us not forget, that pregnancy itself–although short in comparison to a lifetime of parenting–is its own separate journey for you and your partner. It’s a time of transformation, development, and preparation as you enter this new stage of your life (even if this isn’t your first time, it will still be a unique journey for you and your family). Many parents will begin preparing for their baby by setting up a nursery, moving into a larger home, or modifying their budgets in order to financially prepare for parenthood. However, more recently, one of the most popular ways to plan for your baby’s future is by making the decision to preserve your child’s stem cells after birth.

If this is the first time you have heard of newborn stem cell banking, then we are here today to fill you in on all of the important details–a parents guide to cord blood and tissues. We will discuss the collection process, costs involved, and benefits that you should consider in order to make an informed decision for your child’s future.

What is Newborn Stem Cell Banking?

So first thing’s first, what is newborn stem cell banking? It refers to the immediate collection and lifetime storage of your baby’s stem cells right after birth. When parents choose to bank their newborn’s stem cells, they must first choose a private stem cell bank to store with. If parents would rather donate their baby’s cord blood, they also have the option to do so through a public bank (if you want to learn the differences between each, check this blog post). Most private stem cell banks offer storage options for cord blood, cord tissue, and placental tissue. In the next section, we will go over each type and discuss important facts that you should know.

Parents Guide To Cord Blood, Cord Tissue, and Placental Tissue

Your newborn’s stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta have powerful healing capabilities. Stem cells work like a “bio-repair kit”, helping to heal and restore tissues, and replenish other cells. Parents can choose to store one type or all three types of their newborn’s stem cells. Each offers its own unique benefits, but preserving all three increases the amount of stem cells available for medical use in the future.

  • Cord blood is the untapped source of a baby’s early immune system. This amazing resource can be preserved for treatable diseases, most notably some inherited conditions like juvenile diabetes and sickle cell disease or other non-genetic diseases, cancers, autoimmune disorders, and blood disorders. These stem cells are known as Hematopoietic stem cells, or blood forming cells, the building blocks of our blood, and are the foundation of our immune system.

  • Cord tissue refers to the tissue inside the umbilical cord, and is unique compared to the stem cells found in cord blood. These cord tissue stem cells are called mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs and have the potential to evolve into many types of cells, including organ, muscle, skin, bone, cartilage, and fat cells. There have been clinical trials that have shown cord tissue to be more useful than cord blood in certain therapies such as spinal cord injuries, cartilage repair, orthopedic indications and neurological conditions.

  • Placental Tissue is another rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and mesenchymal-like stem cells, which are multipotent in nature. This means they have the ability to differentiate into specialized cells with specific functions. Scientists have successfully repaired bones, cartilage and fat tissues using MSCs. As you may know, the placenta is responsible for transferring oxygen and nutrients between mother and baby, making it an integral role in your baby’s development. But as we continue to learn more about stem cell treatments, the placenta has tremendous potential when it comes to the future of regenerative medicine.

Common Questions Regarding Stem Cell Banking

Now that you have a better idea of what stem cell banking is and why more parents are preserving their newborn’s stem cells, it’s time to address some of the most commonly asked questions.

  1. Does collection hurt the baby or the mother?
    No, not at all! The collection process is quick and painless.

  2. How far in advance should you choose a private stem cell bank?
    Expecting parents should plan on storing their baby’s stem cells at least three months in advance. This gives you enough time to receive the collection kit and talk to your doctor or midwife about your plans. They will be the ones to perform the collection process ( Easy to follow and detailed instructions are included in your collection kit. If your healthcare provider has any questions, we are available by phone 7 days a week to assist.)

  3. How much does it cost to store?
    The cost to store will vary based on what types of stem cells you are wanting to preserve. There are valuable stem cells in the cord blood, cord tissue and placenta and your price will depend on which ones you wish to store–you also have the option to save all three. Final costs will also depend on whether you want to pay monthly, yearly, or up front.

  4. Who can use my newborn’s stored stem cells?
    The great thing about stem cell banking is that you are not only protecting your baby’s future but your family’s as well. Your baby will be a 100% match for their own stem cells. Full siblings are the most likely to be compatible matches, with 75% chance of being at least a partial match. The child’s biological parents will always be a partial match. However, extended family members are less likely to be immune compatible, but still may be a partial match.

  5. How long can stem cells be stored safely?
    Newborn stem cells are cryogenically stored at approximately -196°C (-316°F). Some of the oldest successfully engrafted stem cell samples were stored for over 30 years. Scientific researchers believe that samples suspended in a cryogenic state can remain viable in a cryogenic state indefinitely.

Takeaway

The decision to store your baby’s stem cells is ultimately up to you, but we hope that you have a clearer understanding after reading our parents guide to cord blood and newborn stem cells. 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 additional questions, or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us today.

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Closeup of a couple embracing the mother’s pregnant belly.