With our second baby on the way, I've been hearing a LOT about cord blood banking lately. When I was asked to share some information on cord blood banking with you all, I happily agreed (largely because I've been very curious about the subject myself!). Here's a quick rundown on the ins-and-outs, the benefits of cord blood banking, how it's done, and where you can learn more.

the benefits of cord blood banking
Photo credit: Ivette Ferrero

The benefits of cord blood banking

With every newborn baby, the parents are understandably anxious to make sure that the infant gets the best possible start in life and the best possible healthcare. This does not just mean care for any immediate problems or symptoms that might arise, but also a potentially life-saving action that can be taken at birth to help with possible health issues for the child as he or she grows up – the taking of cord blood.

What is cord blood banking?
This option, which can be chosen at birth as a potential lifesaver later in life, is cord blood banking. Essentially, cord blood is blood that is lodged in the umbilical cord and in the placenta after a baby is born. This small blood sample is unique, because it contains a high density of stem cells.  These stem cells are important for the immune system, as they have the ability to morph into other forms of cells, and are therefore useful to the child in fighting disease and repairing organ damage. By saving the cord blood immediately after birth, in a process known as banking, the stem cells in the blood are kept available for possible future use.

What does cord blood banking involve?
Precious cord blood cannot be stored as it is, so there is a set procedure for extracting the cord blood and preparing it for storage. The cord blood is collected from the umbilical cord when it is still attached to the placenta after birth.  This means that there is no additional intrusive procedure involving either the mother or the baby. A small amount of blood, approximately three to five ounces in total, is collected. This blood is then delivered to a cord blood bank, where it is stored in a deep-frozen state, after being tested and processed.

How could cord blood banking save a child’s life?
The value of cord blood lies in its potential use if the child needs it as a result of a serious illness. In this way, cord blood banking is a form of health insurance, and the cord blood is only used if there is a need. While the benefits of cord blood are still being researched, there is already evidence that the stem cells from cord blood can be used in the treatment of some severe diseases, including some varieties of cancer, such as leukemia. As these diseases can otherwise be fatal, cord blood give an extra dimension to any possible life-saving treatment that might be needed. The use of cord blood is being investigated in cases of diabetes, hearing loss, stroke, and cardiovascular damage, as well as cancer and blood disorders.

Why should all parents know about cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking is a fairly recent innovation, and it is possible that there are benefits that are yet to be discovered. However, the rich source of stem cells in cord blood could assist in a number of known treatments. The possible uses of cord blood are still being investigated, but more and more parents are considering it as an investment in their child’s future health.  There is more info available about this whole subject at cordblood.com.

This post is sponsored by cordblood.com. All opinions are my own.