Should We Store our Newborn’s Cord Blood?
During the delivery of your baby a small amount of umbilical cord blood is taken to obtain routine labs on your newborn. Once the blood is taken the remainder of the cord blood and placenta are discarded. However there is an option to collect a large volume (2 cups worth) of umbilical cord blood that can possibly be used for your baby in the future. Umbilical cord blood is collected and stored away by either private or public cord banks. The purpose of storing umbilical cord blood is to use it in the future for your child to treat a number of genetic, blood, and cancer conditions in children such as leukemia and immune disorders. Examples of such condition include acute and chronic leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, and thalassemia major. It is important to know that there are no accurate statistics or studies on the likelihood of your child someday needing their own stored cells.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) “discourages storing cord blood at private banks for later personal or family use as a general insurance policy.” Instead the AAP encourages families to donate their newborn’s cord blood to a cord blood bank or other individuals in needs.
Private cord blood banking is storing the baby’s cord blood for his/her own use in the future or for a family member should it be necessary. Public cord blood banking is a way to donate the baby’s cord blood in a public bank which makes it accessible to anyone in need of a transplant or used for research purposes.
An instance where private cord banking would be used is if there was knowledge of a full sibling in the family with a medical condition that could potentially benefit from cord blood transplantation.
Public donor cord blood banks can be difficult to find in the United States since there are only a few in existences. Public cord blood banks are usually non-profit, although a few for profit cord blood banks bank both privately and publically. Private donor cord blood banks are for-profit and are more accessible in most major cities. The costs vary from bank to bank and generally the fees tend to account for the private storage of cord blood which includes both the collection and the storage. Private cord blood banks supply the family with a collection kit, the obstetrician will collect the umbilical cord blood during the delivery and within 24-48 hours the cord blood is mailed to the banks storage facility. The average cost is $1,600 with a yearly storage fee of approximately $125.
If you are interested in donating your newborn’s blood or storing it privately with a blood bank discuss the pro’s and con’s with your health care provider and future pediatrician. Even though statistically it is unlikely that your baby will ever need to use his/her own umbilical cord blood, many feel it is an expense they are willing to spend for an extra “insurance policy” on their greatest gift!