9 Need-to-Know Facts About Cord Blood Banking

In the world of parenting, where technologies and trends of the future seem to have already arrived, expectant parents face a wealth of new information − especially about cord blood and cord tissue stem cells− that can sometimes be overwhelming. Even for modern moms and savvy dads, it can be challenging to fully understand and decide whether to bank this source of stem cells.  

For all kinds of parents − from new moms and dads to experienced parents to those just starting to plan for a baby − we had Morey Kraus, ViaCord chief scientific officer and Dr. Sean Daneshmand, OBGYN and founder of Miracle Babies, cut through the clutter and give you nine important facts parents should know about banking cord stem cells today:

1. In 1988, cord blood could treat one disease. Today, it can treat nearly 80.

Cord blood can treat certain types of cancer, genetic diseases, immune system deficiencies and blood disorders.  With research continuously being conducted, an increase in the number of treatable diseases in the future is promising.

2. It takes less than four minutes to collect the stem cells in a simple, painless process.

Immediately after birth, an obstetrician or midwife will clamp the baby’s cord. Then using a blood-bag needle, the blood will flow into a sterile bag which is then sealed and transported to a processing facility and stored. The whole collection process takes less time than brewing a pot of coffee.

3. The lifetime probability of needing a stem-cell transplant is 1 in 217.

Estimates show that the odds of an adult needing a cord blood stem-cell transplant by age 20 are 1 in 1,666, but by age 70, those odds become 1 in 217.#

4. Matching criteria for cord blood transplants are less strict than those for bone marrow transplants.

To be considered a match, candidates for a cord-blood transplant only need to meet four out of six matching criteria. Bone marrow transplant candidates must meet at least eight.#  Current data estimates that 70 percent of those without a related donor waiting for bone marrow transplants will not find a match in the national registry.#

5. The dollar figures are 2,000; 35,000; and 300,000.

While banking cord blood privately costs an estimated $2,000, retrieving a public unit for use can cost the family in need up to $35,000 and may or may not be covered by insurance. In 2008, it cost an average $300,000 in medical bills for a bone marrow transplant. #

6. The success rate of a transplant doubles when related donor cells are used. Your child could be a donor for a family member and increase the chances of transplant success.

Sixty-three percent of patients facing a life-threatening illnesses survive beyond one year when related cord blood cells are transplanted. Those who receive unrelated cord blood cells have a 29 percent survival rate.#

7. If your child is ever in need and you’re expecting, you might be able to bank cord blood free.

For example, ViaCord and Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) offer The Sibling Connection Program, which allows families with a child facing one of the nearly 80 treatable diseases to bank the expectant child’s cord blood at no cost.

8. Cord blood stem-cell treatment for Cerebral Palsy, Type-1 diabetes and other common yet un-curable diseases may be on the horizon.

Research in the past few decades has identified dozens of conditions that can be treated with cord blood stem cells, including sickle-cell disease and forms of cancer and leukemia.

9. Cord blood could help treat the one in eight babies born prematurely in the U.S.

Miracle Babies is currently conducting research studies to understand and optimize the collection of cord-blood stem cells in premature infants. Cord blood can provide an invaluable treatment source for babies who are born prematurely and thus susceptible to conditions like Cerebral Palsy, which may be treatable with these stem cells.   


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01 Oct 2012