Previous generations of mothers had far less choices to make during their pregnancies. Where to give birth and what color to paint the nursery were two of the few things our own mothers had to consider. Then they brought in ultrasound scanning and a whole array of ante-natal tests to choose from. Now there’s cord blood banking to consider.
So should you bank your baby’s cord blood or not?
• Taking a cord blood sample is painless for the baby and may have benefits for him or someone else in the future.
• If you have decided to donate your baby’s cord blood for other people, giving a blood donation is free.
• The stem cells in cord blood can be used to treat cancer, blood disorders, immune system deficiencies, brain injuries and auto-immune diseases. Fatal diseases have been reversed by cord blood transplant.
• Human heart valves have been grown using umbilical cord blood. In a few years, scientists may be able to grow fully functioning organs in your child’s own tissue type which would cancel out the need for transplantation from a donor and anti-rejection drugs.
• If you store your child’s own cord blood for him, it can be re-infused back into him in the event of need. Because it is his own blood, there is no risk of rejection.
• Donating cord blood to scientists will help them come up with new medical techniques to help people.
• It has been estimated that the chance of a child needing his own cord blood in the future is only 1 in 20,000.
• It is expensive to bank cord blood and financially out of reach for many families. Some companies charge yearly fees for storing the cord blood, so it is a life-long commitment in many instances with a limited possibility of actually needing to use the blood.
• Stem cell therapy is still experimental and there is limited evidence of its effectiveness for things like cerebral palsy and other brain injuries.
• Blood can carry disease and not all diseases are screened in blood.