Q. I am pregnant and have been reading a lot about cord blood banking. Is this something we should do?
Cord blood banking is the collecting and storing of blood from the umbilical cord and placenta at the time of delivery. Cord blood contains stem cells that can be used for research and for the treatment of certain diseases, including cancer, disorders of the blood and immune system and genetic metabolic disorders.
To understand your options for cord blood banking, it’s important to know the difference between the two main types.
Private cord blood banking refers to having cord blood stored in the event that your own child or family member could benefit from its use. With private cord blood banking, the cost is incurred by the family for collection and storage of the cord blood.
Public cord blood banking is when a baby’s cord blood is donated and stored in a public cord blood bank. The blood is available for anyone in need of a stem cell transplant – similar to the bone marrow donation process. The cord blood may also be used for research.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends donation of cord blood to public cord blood banks if one is available. Private cord blood banking is recommended for parents who have an older child with a condition who could potentially benefit from transplantation.
When considering cord blood banking, it’s important for parents to be aware that for most pediatric conditions in which a stem cell transplant could be beneficial, the child will not be able to use his or her own stem cells because the condition would also be present in the stem cells.
More information and a list of hospitals that offer public cord blood banking is available at www.marrow.org.