Expecting parents are positively overwhelmed by information from internet searches, books, pamphlets, research, studies, speculation, and sworn-by testimony regarding anything and everything having to do with the soon-to-be tiny new addition to their household. From the very moment the pregnancy test comes back positive, expecting parents are faced with information overload while having to make crucial decisions regarding their child before they are even brought into the world. As medical advancements continue to be made, parents are expected to be informed, know to request certain information, and ultimately make decisions about a myriad of different issues that will affect their child.
One of the more recent issues facing expecting parents today that has received a ton of press and attention is the option of banking umbilical cord blood. This decision can become a difficult one to make when you begin doing research on the topic, and also must be made well before the child is born.
Umbilical cord blood banking is the preservation of the blood and stem cells from your baby’s umbilical cord at the time of birth. It is then stored in a bank for potential future use to treat a variety of different illnesses and diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell disease, and metabolic disorders.
Usually when we hear about stem cells being used to treat illnesses, they are debates laced in controversy. We know for a fact that stem cells work in treatment, but just like most other medical advances, it has its critics. However, stem cells that are found in cord blood are considered to be free of controversy since the act of preserving them does not hurt, harm, or pose any threat to the child whatsoever and would in fact be discarded anyway. Many expecting parents have become in-favor of banking their baby’s cord blood, and the reason as to why is really quite simple: anyone would undoubtedly do whatever they could to protect the health of their child.
When a friend of mine was pregnant with her first son, as part of her baby shower registry, she included an option for people to donate to her family’s fund for private cord blood banking. If you plan on banking your baby’s cord blood for future personal or family use, I think it’s really smart to reach out to friends and family as part of your baby shower registry in order to realistically be able to make this investment. The reason for this is because private banks cost money, and it may be more than you’re planning on spending. Typically, private cord blood banks charge a large initial processing fee, which can range from $595 to nearly $2,000. In addition to that fee, you are then charged an annual storage fee which runs around $95 a year.
When you choose to privately bank your baby’s cord blood, you pay an annual fee in order to keep it stored and available for you and your family if your child or a sibling should ever need it to help treat an illness.
Alternatively, you may choose to donate your baby’s cord blood to a public bank where anyone in need of a transplant could use it, or it may be used for research purposes. That isn’t to say that there wouldn’t be compatible cord blood available to your child if they did at some point need a transplant because they would also have access to the public bank.
Cord blood banking and donation is an intensely important and personal decision that every family must carefully weigh the pros and cons of with the help of their team of doctors before the birth of their child. Whether it’s public donation or private banking, we are certainly making tremendous medical strides in using stem cells to eradicate illness and disease in our children.
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