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Cord Blood Banking

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BUSTED: 7 common myths of cord blood banking

The umbilical cord is the lifeline between you and your baby – it connects your developing baby to your placenta, which helps to provide nutrients and remove waste. Cord blood, also called “placental blood”, is blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following the birth of a baby and after the umbilical cord is cut after delivery.

Cord blood banking is the process of storing your child’s umbilical cord blood, which is a rich source of stem cells should the need for a stem cell transplant ever arise. Cord blood is particularly rich in Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs), which are responsible for replenishing blood and regenerating the immune system. It can be used to treat over 80 types of diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassemia, as well as metabolic and immune disorders.

Cord blood banking is absolutely safe for both mother and child, and will only serve to benefit your family down the road, should they ever need ready access to these life-saving stem cells.
Find out what are some of the most common questions and myths surrounding cord blood banking and how we’ve debunked them!

Myth 1: If my child gets sick, he cannot use his own cord blood
More than 10,000 stem cell transplants using a person’s own cells – known as autologous stem cell transplants – were performed in the U.S. in 2012 . Autologous stem cell transplants can be used to treat certain non-genetic diseases and cancers without the risk of rejection.

In addition, a person can use his or her own cord blood cells to help reconstitute their bone marrow after chemotherapy treatment for non-blood cancers.
Based on Cordlife’s data on cord blood units released for transplants over the years, 64% of the released cord blood units were used for autologous treatment.

Myth 2: Bone marrow is a common source of stem cells so I can always find a bone marrow donor. There’s no point in storing my baby’s cord blood.
There are several advantages of storing your baby’s cord blood stem cells as compared to finding a bone marrow stem cell donor:
• Unlike adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, cord blood stem cells are known as naïve cells which means that they have a greater ability to convert themselves into other types of cells.
• Cord blood stem cells are a guaranteed match for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual).
• Cord blood contains an available supply of stored stem cells. Compared to having to conduct a national or international search, which can be costly and time-consuming during a time critical situation.
• Cord blood has a lower risk of Graft vs Host Disease for autologous transplants, a situation where the transplanted tissue attacks the patient’s own tissue.
• Extracting stem cells from bone marrow is usually invasive, whereas cord blood is easy to collect, which is pain-free and risk-free to both mother and child.

Myth 3: Odds that a family will ever need their banked cord blood are so low that people shouldn’t bother doing it
Cord blood is a ready source of genetically related stem cells for a family member. Unlike bone marrow which requires a perfect match between donor and patient, the probability of finding a match among family members using cord blood stem cells is much higher.

By storing the cord blood from each child, parents can increase the chance of locating a match within the family.

Myth 4: Cord blood can ONLY treat blood disorders.
Not true—studies have shown that cord blood has proven to treat over 80 diseases1 such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and thalassemia. There are also many ongoing clinical trials and studies using cord blood stem cells, which have given hope to families faced with conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, and diabetes – all of which currently have no known cure .

What’s more, studies have also shown that 1 in 3 people are estimated to benefit from such regenerative medicine therapy which requires the patient’s own cord blood!

Myth 5: All cord blood banks are the same.
Nope, not all family cord blood banks are the same! They vary in terms of quality, experience and even the technology they use to collect, process, and store your baby’s cord blood.

Choosing a family cord blood bank that has passed as least one accreditation standard that is specific to cord blood banking, either the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) or the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), is highly recommended by The Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.

Another important factor to consider is whether the family cord blood bank has a proven track record of releasing cord blood for transplants. This is an indication that the cord blood stem cells are being stored according to the highest and strictest standards and will still be usable should the need for a transplant ever arise.

Myth 6: Participating in clinical trials provides no benefit to me as a patient
Clinical trials are one of the key driving forces in medical breakthroughs and it represents hope for families with conditions that have no known cure. They are designed to make improvements in medical advancements related to the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of illnesses. Apart from being successfully used to treat blood disorders such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and thalassemia, cord blood stem cell treatment in clinical trials have also shown positive results for conditions such as cerebral palsy and diabetes.

Myth 7: Collecting cord blood can affect delivery and takes blood away from our baby
Cord blood collection happens only after your baby is born and when the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The collection is painless, easy, and safe for both mother and baby. Deciding to save your baby’s cord blood shouldn’t change the normal birthing process, whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section. For those who choose not to store their baby’s cord blood, it will normally be discarded.

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