Cord Blood: The Basics

When a baby is born, the blood left inside the umbilical cord is very special. Cord blood is packed with hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), known for their ability to develop into blood and immune cells.

Cord blood stem cells have been used for over thirty years in the treatment of more than eighty conditions of the blood and immune system, as part of a stem cell transplant. These include sickle cell anemia and cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, among other conditions.

A baby’s umbilical cord is also made of tissue. There’s exciting research on using cord blood and cord tissue for regenerative medicine, which aims to restore or establish normal function in the body. Autism, cerebral palsy, and hearing loss are among some of the many conditions that have been studied. In fact, over 300 clinical trials worldwide have been initiated studying the potential new uses of cord blood and tissue

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This story was produced in partnership with Cord Blood Registry® the world’s largest newborn stem cell company.

 

 

3 Myths About Cord Blood 

  1. Cord blood is only good for 18 years.

Given all the information available today, it is believed that cord blood units in proper cryostorage should be able to be preserved indefinitely.

 

  1. I only need to store cord blood for one of my children.

While most cord blood stem cell transplants require that the stem cells be from a matched donor (like a matched sibling), the individual’s own stem cells may be used for certain conditions, especially in the investigational field of regenerative medicine.

In fact, every child is unique and is a perfect genetic match to their own newborn stem cells. Full siblings have up to a 75 percent chance of being at least a partial genetic match. By preserving the cord blood for each child, you are ensuring you have a perfect match for each child and multiple options for future potential use.

 

  1. If you delay clamping of the umbilical cord, you can’t preserve cord blood.

Actually, both options—cord blood preservation and delayed cord clamping — can be right for your family. This study from the New York Blood Center, the largest donor bank in the U.S., indicates that delayed cord clamping of 30-60 seconds does not significantly diminish the cell count of cord blood collected for preservation.

Cord Blood FAQs

How much does banking cord blood cost?

The average upfront cost to store cord blood in a private bank is $1300, with an annual fee of around $180 to continue storage. Some companies offer payment plans on the upfront cost and lifetime storage bundle options.

How long should you store your child’s cord blood?

Many private cord blood banks and physicians recommend storing cord blood for the lifetime of your child, as there is no predetermined age when it would be needed.

Should you store cord tissue as well?

Cord tissue — the umbilical cord itself — is a source of mesenchymal stem cells (and other cells), one of the most widely researched cell types in the rapidly evolving area of regenerative medicine. Clinical trials are studying cells derived from cord tissue for their impact on conditions like osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even autoimmune disorders like lupus.

Do cord blood samples always contain enough stem cells to be clinically effective?

Cord blood collection typically yields enough stem cells to be useful in a transplant or clinical trial. Ultimately, the decision to use stem cells will be up to the treating physician.

Beyond that, researchers from Stanford and the University of Tokyo have recently been trying to multiply, or expand, existing stem cells to create more of them to use. If successful in clinical trials, doctors may one day be able to treat conditions with smaller original amounts of blood.

Can you donate your child’s cord blood?

Yes! But you need to make sure your delivering hospital participates in cord blood donations and make sure to set it up by about 32 weeks.

Sponsored by CBR
The CBR Difference

Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) is the world’s largest and most experienced newborn stem cell company. Since 1992, families have entrusted CBR to store more than 900,000 cord blood and cord tissue samples.

What the Heck Are Stem Cells Again And Why Are They Such a Big Deal?

Stems cells are the budding youngsters of the cellular world. Most cells in the body are already fully developed for a task — muscle cells that move, blood cells that carry oxygen, and brain cells that relay messages. Stem cells, on the other hand, have yet to specialize to the same extent.

But there isn’t just one type of stem cell. The most common stem cells are specialized or “adult” stem cells that live in a specific tissue or organ and can only become a cell found in that place. The stem cells in cord blood, also called hematopoietic stem cells, can turn into any type of blood or immune cell. That’s why cord blood stem cells can be so valuable for patients with conditions that prevent the body from producing healthy blood cells on its own.

Cord blood and cord tissue stem cells are extra special because they’re so young — they haven’t been in contact with diseases or pollutants that older stem cells might face. Collecting them at birth ensures you’re saving the youngest cells you can while avoiding invasive and more difficult procedures to collect them from bone marrow in the future, if needed.