As a nurse I am all about educating others about important topics, and as you all know, every month has an “awareness” topic. I have decided to share information about those that are important to me as a labor and delivery, women’s health and pediatric nurse.
With that being said, July is national cord blood awareness month, and I know that cord blood banking has gotten a bad rap, so I want to give you accurate information. First off, I am going to say that no, I did not bank my daughter’s cord blood. Banking cord blood is not for everyone and as with everything else you have to do your research and make the choice based on what is best for your family.
What is cord blood?
To start, stem cells are used in the treatment of some diseases and tissue regeneration. The stem cells come from peripheral blood (such as when you give blood), bone marrow, and cord blood. These stem cells are not from killing a fetus and do not harm the baby in any way.
How is it collected?
After a baby is born, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. If the mother decided to save the cord blood, the blood left in the cord after it is cut is collected into a tube and stored for later use. Normally this blood would be discarded with the placenta and cord as medical waste, you are not taking blood from the baby or mother.
What are my options when it comes to storing it?
You have several options when it comes to storing cord blood. You can donate it a public blood bank. This is similar to what happens when you donate blood, it is used for research and to help others. You cannot use it if you need it, but you may be able to use other donated cord blood. You can also pay to store it in a private bank that will keep it incase you or a family member ever need it. These can be very expensive, but you have several options (which I am not going to go into that research right now).
What are the benefit of cord blood?
There are many benefits of cord blood as opposed to other types of stem cells such as bone marrow, including: safe and easy collection, more matches, ready to use, and better chances of success.
What is cord blood used for?
There are almost 80 conditions that cord blood can treat:
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia
- Burkitt’s lymphoma
- Chronic myeloid leukemia
- Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Lymphomatoid granulomatosis
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia
- Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes
- Amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia
- Autoimmune neutropenia (severe)
- Congenital dyserythropoietic anemia
- Cyclic neutropenia
- Diamond-Blackfan anemia
- Evan’s syndrome
- Fanconi anemia
- Glanzmann’s disease
- Juvenile dermatomyositis
- Kostmann’s syndrome
- Red cell aplasia
- Shwachman syndrome
- Severe aplastic anemia
- Congenital sideroblastic anemia
- Thrombocytopenia with absent radius
- Dyskeratosis congenita
- Blood Disoders
- Sickle-cell anemia (hemoglobin SS)
- HbSC disease
- Sickle βo Thalassemia
- α-thalassemia major (hydrops fetalis)
- β-thalassemia major (Cooley’s anemia)
- β-thalassemia intermedia
- E-βo thalassemia
- E-β+ thalassemia
- Metabolic disorders
- Adrenoleukodystrophy Gaucher’s disease (infantile)
- Metachromatic leukodystrophy
- Krabbe disease (globoid cell leukodystrophy)
- Gunther disease
- Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome
- Hurler syndrome
- Hurler-Scheie syndrome
- Hunter syndrome
- Sanfilippo syndrome
- Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome
- Mucolipidosis Type II, III
- Alpha mannosidosis
- Niemann Pick Syndrome, type A and B
- Sandhoff Syndrome
- Tay-Sachs Disease
- Lesch-Nyhan disease
- Ataxia telangiectasia
- Chronic granulomatous disease
- DiGeorge syndrome
- IKK gamma deficiency
- Immune dysregulation polyendocrineopathy
- X-linked Mucolipidosis, Type II
- Myelokathexis X-linked immunodeficiency
- Severe combined immunodeficiency
- Adenosine deaminase deficiency
- Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
- X-linked agammaglobulinemia
- X-linked lymphoproliferative disease
- Omenn’s syndrome
- Reticular dysplasia
- Thymic dysplasia
- Leukocyte adhesion deficiency
- Langerhans cell histiocytosis
- Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
As you can see, there are many uses and benefits of cord blood, but as I said you have to make the choice of what is right for your family. Sometimes you just can’t afford to bank cord blood and that is ok, it is just important that people know what cord blood is really used for and the truth behind what it is. If you want additional information, just check out the resources below.
NCBI – Umbilical Cord Blood: Information for Childbirth Educators (this is a very long article and has a lot of great detailed information if you are interested and have time.)
March of Dimes – Cord Blood
Viacord – How is cord blood used today
Did you bank your child’s cord blood, or are you thinking about banking cord blood?