Posts Tagged ‘cord blood’

July is Cord Blood Awareness Month

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Umbilical cord blood (also called cord blood) is the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.

Usually health care providers discard the placenta, umbilical cord and cord blood after a woman gives birth. But some families store the cord blood so it can be used later on to treat diseases. Storing cord blood is also called banking.

If you choose to store your baby’s cord blood, your provider collects it right after your baby is born. It doesn’t matter if you have a vaginal birth or cesarean birth (also called c-section).

How do you know if banking cord blood is right for your family?

If you’re thinking about banking your baby’s cord blood, talk to your health care provider before you give birth. Write your choice in your birth plan and share it with your provider.

You have two main options to store your baby’s cord blood:

  1. You can donate cord blood to a public cord blood bank. There is no cost to you to store your baby’s cord blood at a public bank. But the cord blood donation is used for research or to help others who need cord blood. If you or a family member needs cord blood, you can’t use the blood you donated. Not all hospitals allow cord blood donations to public banks. Visit the National Marrow Donor Program to see a list of hospitals that allow donation to public cord blood banks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) recommends donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank.
  2. You can store cord blood in a private cord blood bank. Cord blood stored in a private cord blood bank can be used by you, your baby or a member of your family if it’s ever needed. The chances that you or someone in your family may need to use your stored cord blood are very low – about 1 in 2,700. But if someone in your family has a health condition that may need to be treated with a stem cell transplant, storing cord blood may be a good choice. The cost for a private bank is about $2,000, plus a yearly fee of about $125, depending on the bank you use.

Visit marchofdimes.org to learn more about umbilical cord blood.

Banking your baby’s umbilical cord blood–should you do it?

Friday, July 17th, 2015

newborn-2The umbilical cord connects your baby to the placenta. Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, which may be used to treat certain diseases. Because of this, many people consider storing or banking the cord blood so that it may possibly be used in the future.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells can grow into specific kinds of cells in your body and may be used to treat some diseases, like cancer. In healthy people, bone marrow makes stem cells. But sometimes a person’s bone marrow stops working and doesn’t make enough healthy stem cells. For people with conditions like cancer, treatments like chemotherapy or radiation can kill healthy stem cells.

If a person needs new stem cells, he may be able to get a stem cell transplant from cord blood. New stem cells from the transplant can go on to make new, healthy cells.

Storing cord blood

There are two options for storing cord blood:

Public cord blood bank: This option is appropriate for most families and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Cord blood donation is used for research or to help others. There’s no cost to you to donate. If you or a family member ever needs cord blood, you can’t use the blood you donated, but you may be able to use cord blood donated by others. Several cord blood banks participate in this program.

Private cord blood bank: This may be a good option for you if you have a child or family with a health condition that may need to be treated with a stem cell transplant. Depending on the bank you choose, the cost is about $2,000, plus a yearly fee of about $125. The chance that your baby or a family member may need to use your stored cord blood is very low – about 1 in 2,700.

Planning for cord blood collection

If you decide to store your baby’s cord blood (through either a public or private bank), you will need to plan ahead of time and make sure your provider is aware of your choice. Between your 28th and 34th week of pregnancy, talk to your provider about your decisions and learn if you meet the donation guidelines.  Put your decision about cord blood on your birth plan. The March of Dimes birth plan includes a question about storing umbilical cord blood.

Your provider usually uses a collection kit that you order from the cord blood bank. To collect the cord blood, your provider clamps the umbilical cord on one side and uses a needle to draw out the blood. The blood is collected in a bag and then sent to the cord blood bank. Your provider can collect cord blood if you have either a vaginal delivery or a C-section.

According to Be the Match, each year in the United States, more than 10,000 people are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases that may be treated with a stem cell transplant. When a patient with leukemia, lymphoma or other life-threatening disease needs a transplant, cord blood may be an option. Today, 15% of transplant patients receive cord blood that was generously donated to a public cord blood bank.

Questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Should we wait to clamp the umbilical cord?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

A recent study suggests that it might be best for docs to wait a minute or two before clamping the umbilical cord after a baby is born.  It’s important to cut off the blood flow from Mom to baby at some point, especially before there is an opportunity for the flow to reverse itself. But waiting an extra 60 seconds or so might provide Junior with extra stem cells within the cord blood.  Stem cells are powerful and can grow into different types of cells the body needs.

According to Dr. Paul Sandberh, author of the study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, different studies on preterm infants have found postponing clamping the cord for 30 seconds or more reduced the incidence of anemia, intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleeding), late-onset sepsis (a complication of infection in the days after birth), and decreased the need for blood transfusions. It may help prevent anemia in full-term infants. He refers to delayed clamping as “nature’s first stem cell transplant” – an intriguing thought.

You probably have read pros and cons of storing a baby’s cord blood. The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks it is unwise to store cord blood in a private blood bank, unless your family has a history of a certain disease. The AAP and many scientists favor the collection and storage of cord blood in public banks so someone may have the opportunity of using stem cells in the future.  This recent study asks the question will delaying clamping the cord after birth provide a cord blood boost to babies now?

Dr. Sandberh believes that more needs to be learned about the timing of clamping off the flow of cord blood, and it’s worth investigating.  If you’re pregnant, you might want to have a conversation with your provider about when to clamp the cord when your little one arrives.

Another word on cord blood

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

In case you missed it, check out Pam’s post from last week on cord blood.  I find the whole thing fascinating. I’m not talking about the potential benefits of stem cell research either. I’m talking about the business behind it. Now that I’m expecting I’m targeted with advertisements on a regular basis to save my baby’s cord blood for personal use. Whether I’m flipping through a pregnancy magazine, shopping at a maternity store or watching TV, I can’t seem to escape the image of that little baby looking down at her belly button.

I’ve done a lot of reading (not including the pamphlets dropped in my shopping bag) and talked to my provider about it. Based on our family medical history, my husband and I decided against storing our babies cord blood in a private bank. We are very much in favor and interested in donating the cord blood however.

There is no cost to parents who donate their baby’s cord blood to a public bank. However, this option is not available everywhere. The National Marrow Donor Program provides a complete listing of participating hospitals; the program’s phone number is (800) 627-7692. Parents who choose to donate their baby’s cord blood must complete a lengthy parental health and disease questionnaire. The mother also must have blood tests for diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. In some cases, parents may have to pay for these tests if their insurance does not cover them.

Storing your baby’s umbilical cord blood: Is it a good idea?

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

You’ve probably seen those ads. The ones that say something like this, “Save your baby’s cord blood and protect her from serious illness in the future.” Should you do it?

The December 22 issue of Newsweek has a good article on this topic. The story is called “When Medicine Meets Marketing,” and it asks an important question: “Is salesmanship outpacing science?”

Umbilical cord blood is the blood left in the cord and placenta after the baby is born and the cord is cut. It is a rich source of stem cells.

Stem cells can be used to treat some genetic disorders and certain cancers. More than 70 disorders have been treated with stem cells from cord blood. Parents can now store their newborn baby’s cord blood at private cord blood banks.

Sounds good, right? But here’s the catch. If a child does need a stem-cell transplant, his own stem cells usually are not the safest or best source of stem cells for treatment.

OK, then, “Who should store umbilical cord blood?” Families who have a history of certain genetic diseases may want to store cord blood in a private bank for their family members. Health care providers, including genetic counselors, can provide more information.

But for the rest of us, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend storing cord blood in private banks. Storage is expensive, and the likelihood of it helping the baby is small, maybe even nonexistent.

The ads from umbilical cord blood banks are everywhere these days. But think twice before storing umbilical cord blood. Talk to your family’s health care providers first.

Here’s an alternative. The AAP and many scientists favor the storage of cord blood in public banks. It can be used to help people who urgently need blood cell transplants.

To learn more about umbilical cord blood, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.