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Cord Blood - The Basics

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Cord blood has drawn a lot of public curiosity in the last three years. Most of this has rallied around the findings in the medical community of the potential benefits they think cord blood could offer in the treatment or management of medical conditions that have perplexed doctors and researchers for decades. So what exactly is cord blood and how is it thought to help?

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord is the cord that connects the fetus/baby to the placenta. This cord carries oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood from the placenta to the fetus/baby, thus helping it’s growth. When the baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut few minutes after delivery, nutrient-rich blood remains in the arteries of the cut portion of the umbilical cord. This is known as umbilical cord blood or simply cord blood.

What does cord blood contain? It has been found that cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells, apart from the usual red blood cells, white blood cells, blood platelets and plasma. Hematopoietic stem cells are blood-forming stem cells and are similar to (though not the same as) those found in bone marrow. (Source: National Cord Blood Program, New York Blood Center; Article Title: Cord Blood Q & A; URL: http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/qa/)

Scientists and physicians have researched and come to conclude that cord blood may help in the management of certain types of blood cancers and a few genetic disorders of the blood. (Source: Hal E. Broxmeyer PhD and Franklin O. Smith MD (2009). "Cord Blood Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation." Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, Fourth Edition (Fourth Edition).

On the basis of results obtained from studies, it is also a widely held opinion that cord blood may prove beneficial in the management of:

• brain injuries (Source: Cord Blood for Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, Autologous Cord Blood Cells for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Study 1. Phase I Study of Feasibility and Safety),
• type 1 diabetes (Source: Haller MJ, etal.; Viener, HL; Wasserfall, C; Brusko, T; Atkinson, MA; Schatz, DA (2008). "Autologous umbilical cord blood infusion for type 1 diabetes.". Exp. Hematol. 36 (6): 710–715. doi:10.1016/j.exphem.2008.01.009. PMC 2444031. PMID 18358588)
• cardiovascular damage (Source: Harris DT, et al. (2007). "The potential of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative medicine.". Expert Opin. Biol. Ther. 7 (9): 1311–1322. doi:10.1517/14712598.7.9.1311. PMID 17727322)
• Stroke (Source: Vendrame M, et al. (2006). "Cord blood rescues stroke-induced changes in splenocyte phenotype and function.". Exp. Neurol. 199 (1): 191–200. doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2006.03.017. PMID 16713598)

However, further studies are being conducted by researchers and doctors all over the world to discover more about the benefits of cord blood for humans, and the regenerative medication it could prove to be in more medical conditions.

Since it is believed that the stem cells of the cord blood produce cellular ingredients required for blood and immune system, it may help patients restore immune and blood system diseases and disorders when transplanted to them. (Source: Mazecordblood.com; Umbilical Cord Blood – What Is It?; URL: http://www.mazecordblood.com/umbilical-cordblood.htm). This gives us enough reason to want to store the cord blood for the babies born to us in case of future medical emergencies/situations.

Besides the baby herself/himself, family members of the baby could use the cord blood if a suitable or compatible match can be made. Once collected, cord blood is preserved at very low temperatures and then stored in a cord blood bank for future transplantation.

Generally, public cord blood banks collecting cord blood in the U.S are listed. The National Cord Blood Program runs collection programs through it’s locations which you may check for more information.

Read more about cord blood, collection process, collection centers, storage procedures and costs involved on:
• http://www.parentsguidecordblood.org/
• http://www.nationalcordbloodprogram.org/qa/
• http://www.cordblood.com/cord_blood_banking_with_cbr/what_is_cord_blood.asp
• http://www.mazecordblood.com/umbilical-cordblood.htm
• http://www.cordblood.com/cord_blood_faqs/cord_blood.asp


Reviewed July 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1 (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2 (Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.sterlingpublishers.com/search_result.asp) and the upcoming The Urban Woman’s Integrated Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.