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What You Should Know About Cord Blood

Among the many decisions you make as a new mom, you may want to add cord blood banking to the list. Some studies show that cord blood banking has many advantages and can potentially protect your little one against several diseases and disorders in the future.

Now that you know cord blood banking is a ‘thing,’ read on to learn exactly what it is, how it’s used and if you should consider storing yours.

What is cord blood?

After birth, your baby’s umbilical cord still holds a small amount of blood. The blood contains pristine stem cells that are used to produce any cell in the blood or immune system, helping the body heal. Most stem cells can make copies of themselves. For example, a skin stem cell can make new skin cells, and so on.

How it’s used

The Cord Blood Registry (CBR) says that cord blood stem cells have the potential to treat over 80 known diseases and disorders, like leukemia and lymphoma. However, research is still progressing to uncover new ways stem cells can repair and restore severe conditions, like hearing loss, heart defects and even autism.

Joseph Mitro, M.D, a board-certified physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at INTEGRIS, says “Umbilical cord blood can be used to treat certain diseases, primarily genetic diseases, blood disorders, or blood cell derived cancers. It has the potential to be lifesaving for someone who has a disease that can be treated with cord blood. However, it will not treat or cure every possible disease that children can develop.”

Saving your cord tissue

Not only are moms storing cord blood, they’re also storing cord tissue. Cord tissue contains additional stem cells that may help repair and heal the body in different ways than cord blood. These cells can create structural and connective tissues and are currently being evaluated in 30 clinical trials. Cord tissue is not only used for the child, it can potentially be used for close or immediate family members.

How is cord blood stored and collected?

This blood is either stored in a privately-owned facility of the parents’ choosing or a public facility.  Dr. Mitro says, “If the parents chose to pursue private banking, they find a blood bank of their choosing, and receive a packet of materials that are brought to their delivery. The delivering doctor then collects umbilical cord blood in a bag that is provided by the bank.”

The blood is collected after birth when the cord is clamped and cut. A needle is inserted into the umbilical vein to collect about 2-5 ounces of blood into a sterile bag. The blood will then be transported to the storage facility where it goes through a cryopreservation method and is stored for many years to come.

Did you know? If you choose not to store cord blood for personal use, you have the option to donate it to a public cord blood bank help other individuals in the future. If you’re not interested in storing, be sure to speak with your doctor about donating. 

Collecting the cord blood doesn’t affect the baby. Dr. Mitro says, “The only conflict is if the parents also want to do delayed cord clamping. Delayed cord clamping is a newer trend that can be beneficial to the newborn. If parents want to do this, then there may not be enough remaining blood to collect for cord blood banking.”

Things to consider

It’s beneficial to determine your chances of using the stored cord blood. Dr. Mitro explains, “The American Academy of Pediatrics does not currently recommend cord blood banking for routine prevention of future disease, unless there is a sibling who could immediately benefit from the donated cord blood. Also, statistics show a low likelihood of ever using the blood, and cord blood currently does have its limitations of use, i.e., cord blood can only be used in certain genetic diseases and hematologic diseases such as lymphoma or leukemia.”

Another major factor for moms when making this decision is the financial obligation it brings. Below are some general costs for private cord blood banking.

Banking and Collection One-Time Fees

  • Average: Cord Blood Banking: $1,000-2,000
  • Average: Cord Blood + Cord Tissue Banking: $2,000-3,000

Storage Annual Fee

  • Average: $100-300/yr.

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