Umbilical-cord Blood Banking
B.J. Ho, D.O. is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Banner Estrella Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz. He can be reached at (623) 846-7558.
Question: My husband and I are pregnant for the first time and have heard a lot about banking cord blood. Is banking our baby's umbilical-cord blood something we should seriously consider?
Answer: Whether or not to bank umbilical-cord blood is a decision that more and more soon-to-be-parents are considering.
The push comes from research that has revealed that cord blood contains the same type of stem cells as those found in bone marrow. Transplantation of these stem cells has been effective in treating serious illnesses, such as various childhood cancers, blood diseases and immune-system disorders.
People elect to bank cord blood for a couple reasons. One is to have the cord blood privately stored in case the child may need it in the future, kind of like an insurance policy. This certainly makes sense for families with a known history of serious childhood illness. However, private cord-blood banking is not recommended for families without a history of disease, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Cord blood also may be stored for donation to a sick sibling, relative or anonymous recipient, or for research, similar to organ donation. Considering the fact that cord blood is otherwise discarded after birth, a donation and the potential benefits are worth consideration. Many children have benefited from cord-blood donations. Due to the medical benefits and need for continued research, the American Academy of Pediatrics highly encourages parents of newborns to donate cord blood.
If you're considering banking or donating your child's cord blood, talk with your obstetrician. He or she can provide you with the information you need to make the best decision.