The use of baby cord blood stem cells can save the life of your child, you, or your spouse during a medically challenging time when the only other alternative would be to wait for a donor or try another form of treatment.
Cord blood is rich In HSCs, also known as multipotent hematopoietic stem cells. Recent advances in medical technology have proven that baby cord blood stem cells can be effectively used to treat many of the same disorders as the HSCs found in the bloodstream and in bone marrow, but without an exact match requirement. Cord blood is currently used to treat severe combined immunodeficiency in addition to a wide range of diseases and cancers.
To date, thousands of people all over the world have been successfully treated with the stem cells found in cord blood, however, the FDA still considers this type of treatment as experimental. But treatment for the future continues to show great promise.
How Cord Blood is Used
For stem cell transplants, up to one hundred and eighty milligrams of the blood can be extracted. Because this type of procedure is still considered experimental, cord blood transplants are done on a case by case basis.
Your newborn’s cord blood is a perfect match, should they ever need a transplant. There’s also more than a thirty percent chance that the cord blood stem cells will be a great match for a full sibling. Additionally, they’re considered a half match for parents and some members of the extended family as well.
Commonly, these half matches are what many scientists base their research on.
Advantages of Cord Blood Storage
Cord blood doesn’t have to be an exact match like peripheral blood transplants or bone marrow. 6/6 HLA is required for a bone marrow transplant. While a close match is preferable with cord blood as well, there have been many successful cord blood transplants with only a 3.6 match. Cord blood can also be a great option for patients with rare tissue types. While finding a suitable bone marrow donor can take several months, it only takes approximately two weeks with cord blood.
Cord blood is cryogenically preserved, and because of this, it’s more readily available compared to bone marrow.
A Lower Risk of GVHD
GVHD is a potentially life-threatening complication that can occur after a patient receives an allogeneic transplant. The patient’s immune system mistakes the transplanted marrow as a foreign object and goes into attack mode against the newly transplanted cells. This complication is less likely with cord blood stem cells compared to peripheral blood or marrow transplants. However, patients are still at risk of developing GVHD after a blood cord stem cell transplant, although these cases are usually not life-threatening.
The Future of Stem Cell Therapy
In addition to the use of cord blood stem cells for transplants, scientists are currently experimenting with the use of baby cord blood for stem cell therapy. Compared to hematopoietic stem cells, which are found in bone marrow, stem cells harvested from cord blood are multipotent and have the ability to transform into different cell types.
Cord Blood Stem Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells
If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the years regarding stem cell research, then you’re well aware that they have the potential to develop into different types of cells, and their healing and regenerative powers seem almost limitless.
Stem cells fall into one of three categories:
The stem cells harvested from cord blood are not part of the debate that surrounds stem cell research, which uses embryonic stem cells. This type of research and testing is very controversial because it leads to the destruction of an embryo for the purpose of medical research, which many men and women feel is unethical. However, there are no ethical concerns when it comes to umbilical cord blood.
Umbilical cord stem cells are considered multipotent, while a fertilized egg is totipotent. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent.
Umbilical cord stem cells are the only type of stem cells that are used to treat human diseases. They have been used for several years in bone marrow transplants. The harvesting of these stem cells has also been used to treat several types of inherited blood disorders, lymphoma, and even leukemia.
The Importance of Cord Blood Banking
These days, cord blood banking is a very fast, simple, and straightforward process. It’s also much more common than it was just a few years ago.
This simple procedure involves obtaining the blood that’s left in the placenta and the newborn baby’s umbilical cord and storing it in a reputable facility for future use.
Baby cord blood banking is the wave of the future. As science continues to make progress in regard to the different types of illnesses, diseases and medical conditions that can be successfully treated with stem cells harvested from cord blood, banking cord blood has become more important than ever.
With the increase in popularity regarding cord blood storage, this option is also now more affordable.
Assessing Your Family Medical History
Families with a medical history of certain types of cancers and diseases are strongly encouraged to use baby cord blood banking to prepare for the possibility of a life-threatening diagnosis at some point in the future. Although this is usually just a safety precaution, if your child is diagnosed with a serious medical condition that can benefit from stem cell treatment, then it can potentially save their life.
Mixed Ethnic Background
Families with a multiracial background can have more difficulty in finding a match if their child is in need of a stem cell transplant. This is because most public cord blood units store a larger volume of Caucasian cord blood than any other type.
Just like health insurance, cord blood banking is an affordable and worthwhile investment. Through a private bank, you’ll not only receive competitive pricing, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that the cord blood has been securely stored solely for the use of your family. When you’re doing research and trying to decide whether or not to store your baby’s cord blood after birth, you should consider it a type of gift that can benefit your children for a lifetime.