cord+bloodThis bank may no be as fresh as fresh-from-the-oven baked goods since many of you may have heard this bank or some of you may even have been offered this kind of savings. Whilst not as fresh as it is expected to be, there is still so little information about what a cord blood bank is even when there are those who have already had their own “savings”! Hence, the aim of this article is to share some basic information about the new opening bank, the cord blood bank. What is a cord blood bank? A cord blood bank is a facility similar to a blood bank, only, its difference is that, instead of ordinary blood, it stores umbilical cord blood that is obtained just after a child is born. The cord blood is collected after the umbilical cord has been cut and is extracted from the fetal end of the cord. The extracted volume range from 75 to 100 ml. It is usually done within 10 minutes of giving birth. Why chooses cord blood? The cord blood differs from ordinary blood as it contains hematopoietic stem cells which is the progenitor cells that can form red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Thus, the cord blood cells are currently used to treat blood and immune system related genetic diseases, cancers and blood disorders. However, it must be understood that cord blood is different from stem cells. Stem cells are characterized by the ability to renew themselves and can form diverse range of cells, unlike the cord blood that can only form blood cells. What are the benefits of the cord blood? As it has been explained above, the cord blood contains hematopoietic cells, thus it can be transplanted to treat diseases of blood, likewise:
  • baby cordLeukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Fanconi’s anemia
  • Sever combined immune deficiency
  • Anaplastic anemia
  • Neuroblastoma
Moreover, using the cord blood that has less-than-completely matched human leukocyte antigen in treating those patients may be less risky in terms of causing graft-vs-host disease than mismatched cells from either a related or unrelated donor. Yet, the gene-therapy research involving modification of autologous cord blood stem cells for treatment of childhood genetic disorders remains experimental at present even if it may ultimately prove to be beneficial in later years. To save or not to save? Until now there are no universal guidelines upon having an “investment” in the cord blood bank. But there are some guidance and recommendations which are issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AAP on 2007. These specific recommendations are: Parents who are encouraged to donate their child's cord blood are those who have an older child with a condition that could benefit from transplantation thus, allowing immediate possible donation to a first-degree relative. Physicians involved in procurement of cord blood should be aware of cord blood collection, processing, and storage procedures as set forth in the guidelines. Informed consent is of the utmost importance. Physicians should provide accurate information about the potential benefits and limitations of allogeneic and autologous cord blood banking and transplantation and they also have to consider about the possible emotional vulnerability of pregnant women and their families and friends. It is important to be sure that the decision is not made under duress. Parents who wish to store their children’s cord blood are strongly advised to search for details information about the facilities, i.e. the national accreditation standards developed by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission, and similar state agencies in the corresponding countries. Up until now, it is more encouraged to donate those cord blood to the public cord blood bank instead investing them in of the private bank. However, these public cord blood bank may be inaccessible for few countries, thus in this case, it is highly advised to consult with the physicians or pediatricians about using the private cord blood facility. In conclusion, the question of whether one should have this kind of “saving” or not cannot be easily answered. The decision, after all, is back to the parents themselves despite of whatever the physicians have recommended. Yet seeing that these cord blood savings are not cheap, hence, it is wise that one should think it more carefully before the decision is made. Glossary: Autologous: transplantation which uses transplant materials from the same individual of the recipient. References:
  1. Moise, Kenneth J, Jr. Umbilical Cord Stem Cells. Obstet Gynecol 2005;106:1393-1407.
  2. Steinbrook, Robert. The Cord-Blood-Bank Controversies. N Eng J Med 2004;351:2255-2257.
  3. Barclay, Laurie. Medscape Medical News: New Guidelines Issued on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking. February 2007.
  4. Pediatrics 2007;119:165-170
Disclosure: This article is made without any ties or obligations toward the instances or facilities as stated in the article. There is no intention of siding with which sides.