You may have heard about storing blood from your baby’s umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood is blood in the umbilical cord and placenta, which
in the past were usually thrown away after delivery. Stem cells have
proved useful in treating some diseases. Treatment corrects and/or
replaces diseased or damaged cells.
Stem cells are present in cord blood.
They are the forerunner of cells that make all blood cells. In cord
blood, these special cells are undeveloped and can become many
different kinds of blood cells. Cord blood doesn’t need to be matched
as closely for a transplant. This feature can be important for members
of ethnic groups or people with rare blood types, who often have more
difficulty finding acceptable donor matches.
How Cord Blood Is Used.
Cord-blood transfers have been in use since about 1990. To date, over
10,000 cord-blood transfers have been done. Umbilical-cord blood (UCB)
is good for treating diseases that affect the blood and immune systems.
UCB-derived stem cells are being studied
as therapy for many disorders. Umbilical-cord blood has been used to
treat over 75 life-threatening diseases, and more uses are likely to
found in the future.
If you or your partner have a family
history of some specific diseases, you may want to consider saving and
banking your child’s umbilical-cord blood, in case it’s needed for
treatment in the future. Blood can be used by siblings or parents. In
fact, the most common use for stem cells from cord blood is between
siblings. However, stored blood can’t be used to treat a genetic
disease in the child from whom the blood was collected. Those stem
cells have the same genetic problems.
If you’re interested, discuss this
situation with your physician at a prenatal appointment. Today, over
600,000 family cord-blood units have been stored. You only have one
chance to collect and save your baby’s umbilical-cord blood.
Before making a decision, ask about how
and where blood is stored and the cost of storing it. This is a
decision you need to make together as a couple. But first you need good
information, such as cost, because blood storage may not be covered by
In many hospitals, expecting mothers
learn about cord-blood donation when they are admitted to the hospital.
Donating cord blood is free.
Collecting and Storing Blood.
The cord-blood storage bank you choose sends you a collection kit; this
is used to collect blood after delivery. It’s collected within 9
minutes after birth, before you deliver the placenta. It’s taken
directly from the umbilical cord; there’s no risk or pain to mom or
baby. You can also bank the blood if you have a Cesarean delivery.
After cord blood is collected, it’s
usually picked up by a courier and taken to a banking facility where it
is frozen and stored. At this time, we don’t know how long frozen cells
will last. Cord blood has been banked only since 1990; however, storage
at this time is better than it was when freezing and storing blood
It’s expensive to collect and to store
umbilical-cord blood. Collection and storage can run between $1000 and
$2000. A single year’s storage can cost around $100.
There are two types of banks—private blood banking and public blood banking.
You may be advised to use private blood banking if you have a history
of some illnesses. With private banking, access is guaranteed to your
own or a relative’s stored blood. Cord blood is available for you or a
family member if you need it in the future.
Public UCB banks provide those who need
stem cells from cord blood with donor cells. However, donors can’t be
guaranteed their own or a relative’s cord blood. Anyone needing the
cord-blood products may get the blood. In some areas, needs-based help
If you donate your child’s cord blood to
a public bank, his or her name is added to the national registry. If
the child ever needs cord blood, he or she is guaranteed it.
Most banks require
the mother to be tested for various infections before blood is
accepted. This can add to the cost of saving the blood. Your insurance
company may pay for this testing, if you have a family history of a
disease that might be treated with umbilical-cord blood. Call and ask
them, if you’re interested.
Some health-insurance companies pay the
collection and storage fees for families at high risk of cancer or
genetically based diseases. Cord-blood banking services may waive fees
for at-risk families who are unable to afford them.
The blood bank you choose should be
accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. They have
established procedures for collecting and storing umbilical-cord blood.
Donating Cord Blood.
If you don’t think you’ll need the blood, you may want to donate it. If
cord blood isn’t used for patients, it may be used by researchers.
There are 18 public cord-blood banks in
the United States at this time. They work with hospitals that ask women
if they are willing to donate their baby’s cord blood.
This is an expensive procedure,
so not all hospitals participate in the program. In addition to
increasing the amount of blood a public bank receives, many are
attempting to increase their range of ethnic backgrounds and diversity
by asking women of color to donate their baby’s blood. If you’re
interested, ask your healthcare provider for information about
cord-blood banking services and cord-blood donation in your area. In
some states, the law requires information on UCB banking to be provided
8. Exercise for Week 39
Stand with your feet slightly apart and
your knees soft. Hold onto a counter or a chair with your left hand for
stability, if you need it. Holding in your tummy muscles, lift your
right leg up behind you until you can touch your bottom with your foot.
Return your foot to the floor, then turn around. Hold onto the support
with your right hand, and lift your left foot. Repeat 8 times for each
leg. Tones quadriceps.