The following was produced in partnership with Cord Blood Registry (CBR), the world’s largest family newborn stem cell bank.
If knowledge is power, then we should all take comfort in the fact that 72 percent of parents have heard about cord blood and tissue banking: the process of saving the remaining blood in the umbilical cord (and the cord itself), after birth, for potential future use.
What once sounded like the stuff of science fiction is now a very real medical option in certain cases. But knowing the procedure exists and actually understanding how it works are two different things.
In our survey of 1,334 parents-to-be, we discovered that there is still a lot to be learned about the potential benefits of cord blood banking. Here’s what parents and expecting parents know, don’t know, and are planning to do about cord blood banking.
Nearly Three Out of Four Expecting Parents Knows About Cord Blood
Considering cord blood transplant procedures are still relatively new, the fact that nearly 3/4 respondents knew about cord blood is impressive. The first procedure performed with cord blood was done in 1988; by 2017, there were some 40,000 transplants performed and 700,000 units of donated cord blood stored; CBR has over 900,000 stored for potential personal use. It may help that 64 percent of people polled were expecting their second or third child — more time in the parenting driver seat leads to being better informed on choices available for their baby’s health.
Parents Are Generally Not Aware of Cord Blood’s Potential
The majority of survey respondents were not aware of the full potential of cord blood in treating — and possibly curing — some of the toughest diseases we face. In fact, most people thought cord blood could be used to treat about 23 different diseases — which is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the actual 80 diseases that can currently be treated with cord blood (only 28 percent got this question right). Among the most common illnesses are various types of cancer, blood diseases, and immune disorders.
About Half Are Unsure If They’ll Bank Their Cord Blood.
Perhaps because they lack the full picture of potential benefits, 43 percent of parents are on the fence about whether they’ll sign up for cord blood banking. On the other hand, 35 percent have already committed to storing their child’s cord blood.
Nearly Half of Parents Who Made A Decision to Bank Cord Blood Will Also Delay Cord Clamping
Of the parents who have made a cord blood decision, 64% of parents will be banking cord blood, nearly half will be asking for delayed clamping (there is overlap because nearly 1/3 of parents plan to do both). Delayed clamping is the act of keeping the umbilical cord connected between mom and baby for more than 30 seconds after birth. In doing so, research has shown that newborns receive an extra dose of nutrient-rich blood. And, yes, you can both delay cord clamp and bank your baby’s cord blood.
Private Cord Blood Banks Are Better Recognized And More Trusted
Family banks, like the Cord Blood Registry, ranked as the most-recognized bank in the survey, will store and save your cord blood for your family only. There is an initial cost followed by annual storage payments.
In Choosing a Bank, Cost Matters to Parents
Affordability topped the charts as the most important factor in choosing a cord blood bank — 28 percent of parents see this as their number one criteria. A doctor or friend’s recommendation followed closely as the second most important factor (22 percent), while location, brand name, customer service, and years in business were less important in making a choice about which cord blood bank to use.
Minimal Monthly Payments Are the Preferred Way to Pay
Given that the average initiation fee for storing cord blood in a private facility is around $1,300, it’s no surprise that most parents prefer to split it up into bite-sized chunks. Paying $50 a month for 36 months was the preferred method of payment for 50 percent of survey takers, nearly double the number of people who opted for the next-cheapest plan of $125 a month for 12 months. Hey, when you’re buying diapers by the truckload and nursery necessities every week, spreading out the cost of other investments can help.
Parents Are Banking Cord Blood for the More Distant Future
Speaking of investments, for most parents we surveyed, banking cord blood isn’t something they’re doing because they think it will be used tomorrow. 16 percent see the current benefits of cord blood, while almost 40 percent believe the real payoff won’t be known until at some point later in our children’s lives. That’s likely true, as there are more than 300 clinical trials to date working to unlock the potential of the stem cells found in cord blood and cord tissue.