Cord Blood: Baby’s Precious Gift

/ 24/07/2012 /

What is Cord Blood?

cord bloodThe umbilical cord ties mother to baby during pregnancy and carries oxygen-rich nutrients to the growing fetus. After the baby is born, the afterbirth was typically discarded as medical waste. It turns out that the cord blood – the life-giving blood contained in the umbilical cord and placenta – contains precious stem cells, which can be frozen and used later in many life-saving procedures.

The stem cells found in cord blood are different from embryonic stem cells found in fertilized eggs. They can be grown into blood cells, immune system cells, and other types of cells that can be used to treat a multitude of blood-related diseases and genetic disorders, including leukemia, lymphoma, and anemia.

Children Can Use Their Own Cord Blood

Cord blood stem cells are also used as part of medical therapies. Currently, there is research exploring the use of cord blood in regenerative medicine, and there are dozens of cell therapies in advanced clinical trials. Children are able to use their own cord blood, and there are trials that are using donor cord blood in cell therapy for adult diseases such as:

·      Cerebral palsy

·      Neonatal oxygen deprivation

·      Traumatic brain injury

·      Type 1 Diabetes

·      Hearing loss

·      Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome

Why Cord Blood Is Better

When a cell transplant is needed, patients can receive stem cells from bone marrow, circulating blood, or cord blood. Cord blood that has been donated or saved to a cord blood bank has several distinct advantages:

·      Much easier to match patients with cord blood (important for minorities and mixed-race persons)

·      Does not have to be matched as precisely as bone marrow

·      Siblings and first-degree relatives of your baby could have a suitable match right at hand

·      Transplanted cells are much less likely to be rejected by hosts

Parents who bank their baby’s cord blood have more options for its future medical use, but this is generally recommended for families who have a history of genetic conditions that can be treated with stem cells. Donating cord blood to a public cord blood bank is a caring option that can save lives.

The immature nature of cord blood stem cells leaves so much potential for its medical uses. This is exciting news for the medical community. However, cord blood can only be collected at birth, and only from babies whose parents are aware of cord blood’s lifesaving properties. This is one big reason why July has been designated Cord Blood Awareness Month.

For more information on Cord Blood and Cord Blood Banking, please visit http://parentsguidecordblood.org/