Deciding on Cord Blood Banking
Studies have proved that cord blood stem cells have the capability to heal more than 70 congenital and acquired diseases such as cancer, osteopetrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps this is the primary reason why more and more expectant parents are opting for cord blood banking. However, there are several issues related to cord blood banking that require thorough consideration. Let’s consider them one by one.
There is no harm in getting your baby’s cord blood preserved, as it can help protect you and your family against many serious illnesses should the need ever arise. Nevertheless, it is also beneficial to weigh the various reasons that are causing you to consider cord blood banking.
If you have a family history of genetic or blood disorders, then cord blood banking is a good proposition for your immediate family. Because cord blood does not require as exact a match as bone marrow, using your baby’s cord blood will cut down on problems including HLA-antigen matching; graft vs. host disease; and infections.
Another issue is just how long stored cord blood stem cells can remain viable. Because cord blood preservation is still a new technology, scientists are unsure as to exactly how long stem cells from cord blood can be stored and remain effective. However, most doctors state that once the cord blood has been cryopreserved, it can remain effective for at least ten to fifteen years, while some suspect even 20 year viability may be possible. One reason for this increased life span is the improvement in storage technology.
Nowadays, several accredited banks are using a controlled rate freezing technique that efficiently protects the integrity of the cord blood by cooling and freezing it gradually. Stored in liquid nitrogen freezers, once the cord blood attains –196o C, it can no longer differentiate until it is thawed. It is this process that is causing experts to believe that stem cells can remain effective for 20 or more years.
One limitation of cord blood stem cells, though, is just who can be treated by it. Because the umbilical cord yields only three to five ounces of cord blood, significantly fewer stem cells can be recovered compared to bone marrow. As a result, previously only children and smaller-sized adults were thought to be able to benefit from cord blood stem cells. However, recently, a handful of patients, children and adults alike, have been successfully with cord blood stem cells from two different sources. This has helped open the door to many more people receiving the opportunity to be treated with cord blood stem cells.
Finding the Right Bank
After taking into consideration these factors, and you have decided on preserving your baby’s cord blood, it is time to begin the search for a suitable cord blood bank. During your search, consider the following issues to locate the most appropriate cord blood bank for you.
Pricing is a principal issue for most parents because private cord blood banking is not a cheap proposition. Apart from the initial fees, you will also have to pay yearly storage fees. Before choosing a particular bank, don’t hesitate to negotiate the price. Often, for the benefit of the parents and in a bid to encourage cord blood banking, private banks provide a variety of payment plans and options to suit every budget.
It is advisable not to accept or reject a cord blood bank solely on the basis of the bank’s price. Remember: a lot goes in to a banks pricing. Cheaper banks may have lower prices simply because they do not have the appropriate facilities or accreditation.
The next important issue is the kind of service the cord blood bank provides. There is not a single provision through which one can determine whether the bank will be able to provide good service or not. Therefore, it is beneficial to prepare a list of questions you would like to ask a potential bank, and then call the bank.
A good cord blood bank will not only patiently answer all your questions, but will also try to educate you about cord blood and the banking procedure as much as possible. Additionally, ask around and talk with other parents who have opted for a particular cord blood bank. Ask them about their experiences with the bank and why they chose that particular bank. Your doctor may be able to help you in this area.
State of Affairs
Above all other concerns, this issue is the most important because your child’s cord blood is a sort of an insurance policy for you, and it must be protected fiercely so that it is available in your hour of need. Therefore, it is essential to check whether the cord blood bank will be able to preserve your cord blood safely for a long period of time.
Try to find out the type of technology the bank is using to preserve the cord blood, and whether the staff is suitably trained in handling and properly preserving the cord blood. Don’t hesitate to check the condition of the equipments and the laboratory; if they offer tours of their facilities, make the time to take a tour. Learn as much as possible about the adequacy of the apparatus used to preserve the cord blood for a long period of time.
The importance of this issue cannot be ignored because cord blood has to remain well preserved for at least 20 years, and some cord blood banks may find it difficult to stay afloat for such a long period. Make sure that the bank is currently in a solid financial condition and it has been around for quite some time. Also, ask the bank just what would happen to your stem cells should the bank go out of business in the future.
Accreditation is important because accredited cord blood banks have to abide by the rules and regulations outlined by the accrediting authorities. Additionally, they need to undergo regular inspections. All this ensures that a bank is using proper methods and equipment to preserve your baby’s cord blood.
Cord blood banking is a relatively new concept, therefore there may be not many cord blood banks near you. However, the majority of private cord blood banks have the capability and will arrange to have your cord blood picked up regardless of your location. Some banks even service people worldwide. To find out if there are cord blood banks in your area, speak with your doctor.
Serious consideration of these issues will go a long way in helping you to select the most appropriate cord blood bank for you.