The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) do not recommend routinely banking cord blood with private banks. There is an exception of a sibling with a medical condition requiring stem cells for treatment. However, it is advisable to donate cord blood to a public cord blood bank to provide life-saving stem cells to a person in need.
Some of the reasons for not banking cord blood to private banks are as follows.
- The chance of a child using cord blood over a lifetime is between 1 in 400 and 1 in 200,000.
- Stored blood cannot be used for diseases that involve genetic mutations. It is because this mutation would be present in the stem cells.
- Stored blood may be beneficial for only 15 years.
- Collection and storage costs at private cord blood banks are high.
- Other effective treatments may be available that are less expensive.
If you have twins and one has a terminal illness, cord blood cells from the healthy twin can treat the twin with the disease. However, you may get similar benefits when the two siblings have slightly different genetic makeups. Cord blood can be used in identical or fraternal twins if one is critically ill and the illness can be managed by stem cell therapy.
The AAP also recommends private cord blood banking for an infant who has a sibling with cancerous or genetic conditions treatable with cord blood transplantation, which include
- Immune deficiencies such as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID)
- Lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's)
- Aplastic anemia
- Sickle cell anemia
- Krabbe disease
- Other rare diseases
Siblings only have a 25 percent chance of being a perfect genetic match. An unrelated donor could be the best genetic match for a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Hence, donating stem cells to a public cord blood bank is the best option.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the leftover blood found in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. Cord blood has special cells called stem cells that can treat and even cure some severe diseases, including
- Blood disorders
- Genetic disorders
- Metabolic diseases
Stem cells develop to become mature blood cells including
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
For many people, umbilical cord stem cells are a life-saving option.
How is cord blood stored?
Cord blood is usually stored in cord blood banks. Several types of cord blood banks include
- Public banks: These banks process and store umbilical cord blood donations for public use or research. Once donated, cord blood would not be available for personal use in the future. There are no storage fees. Mothers usually donate their baby's cord blood to public banks to support people in need.
- Private banks: These banks store cord blood for personal use by a family. You can avail cord blood for yourself any time in the future to treat any malignant conditions. The cost for long-term storage can be exorbitant.
- Direct donation banks: These are a combination of public and private banks. They store cord blood for public use and accept donations reserved for families. They do not charge any fee.
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Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Cord Blood Banking." https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Cord-Blood-Banking
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