Cord Blood Banking: To Do Or Not To Do

Your newborn baby can also be a savior to hundreds of patients suffering from leukemia and other blood related diseases. How? By donating the cord blood to health banks for public use.

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What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is the blood present in the umbilical cord of the baby. Also known as the umbilical or placental blood, it contains stem cells, plasma, RBCs and WBCs, which can be used to grow organs, blood vessels and tissues. The collected cord blood (from public banks) can be used to help people who are suffering from autism, brain injury and other conditions. The potential of cord blood is still being evaluated through clinical trials. Till date, research has found that more than 80% of life threatening diseases can be treated with the blood harvested from the cord of the newborn baby.

Common Myths About Cord Blood Donation Debunked

It will hurt my baby, or worse me!

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style="color: #000000;">Cord blood donation doesn’t mean that blood would be drawn from the baby or even you. It is collected right after the birth and its safe and painless for the newborn. Here’s a step by step process of how it happens:
1. Clamping and cutting of the cord: Once the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. Delays should be avoided, as once the blood clots it is of no use to the baby and cannot be used for cord blood banking.
2. Extracting the blood: The blood is extracted from a vein in the umbilical cord that is attached to the placenta. The needle is nowhere near your baby. The blood is drained into a bag.
3. Off to the selected bank: The blood is then shipped to the blood bank.
Remember that you can also give the umbilical cord for harvesting as it contains different kind of stem cells.

I can decide on it after my baby is here!

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#000000;">First things first. Read up about the benefits of cord blood banking and decide at least by the 26 to 28th week of your pregnancy. Choose the appropriate (public or private cord blood bank) and notify them by the 28th week. Banks usually need to prepare themselves to receive and store the blood.

Once you have decided to donate the cord blood, talk to the healthcare provider. They should know how to extract the blood. Usually hospitals are tied up with some particular bank, you can contact the blood bank directly for more information.

I am eligible for cord blood donation
Not everyone can donate blood and yes, usually there is a pretest and a consent form given to the mother to sign. The sample blood is used to screen out infectious disease like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

You and your baby will not be eligible for cord blood donation if: 1. You are given birth to multiples
2. The baby is born prematurely
3. You, the father, or any

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of the siblings have had any type of cancer
4. You are diabetic and take insulin
5. You have undergone an organ transplant in the past 12 months
6. You got yourself a tattoo, piercing, in the past 12 months
7. You have stayed in the part of the world where it’s easier to contract blood transmitted diseases

Public or Private – Not All Cord Blood Banks Are Same
You can either choose public or private cord blood bank donation. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends public cord blood banking (instead of private) mainly to cut down costs. If you have donated and your child needs it, the donated cord blood can be taken back provided it’s not been used or discarded.

However, if your family has a history of certain diseases especially the ones that harm the blood and immune system, like leukemia, certain cancers, metabolic disorders, sickle cell anemia, etc. the healthcare advisor would advise you against public cord blood

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banking. This is because the stem cells collected from the umbilical cord can help treating these diseases.

Therefore, don’t choose public cord blood banking just because its free and private is expensive. Take a call based on your family history and talk to your doctor in detail to understand it better. Also, if you have a sick child who can benefit from the umbilical cord blood, there are special programs from certain cord blood banks which would cover the entire process free.

Choice Is Yours
Whether you want to bank your child’s cord blood or not is completely a personal choice. You might feel that the potential benefits are less and won’t justify the money involved. You might also feel that’s it’s a health security for your baby in the future. The best thing to do is to understand all about the process so that a rational decision can be taken. Whatever you do, don’t take any decision because of peer pressure.

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