To Bank Cord Blood or Not?

One of the first important decisions parents have to make is whether to bank the umbilical cord blood. Typically after birth the cord blood is discarded but if you decide to bank it then it is collected and cryogenically stored.  This blood is a “rich source of stem cells” so it can be very useful. The blood can be donated to a public blood bank or stored for the family in a private bank.

Donating to a public blood bank allows the bank to archive the cord blood and it is listed on the public  National Marrow Donor Program’s Be The Match Registry. Storing cord blood is very expensive so there are a list of requirements that parents must reach in order to donate cord blood.

There are a few things to consider before you decide to store cord blood in a private bank:

  • Expensive to bank but your likelihood to use it for your family is low.
  • In many cases of childhood cancer and immunity deficiencies the child’s own cord blood could not be used.
  • The cord blood may not have enough stem cells to treat an adult in the family.
  • Most people stand a better chance of finding a match from a public registry rather than their own family cord blood.
  • Cord blood is not the only source of stem cells.
  • Unless you select your private bank carefully, the bank you choose may not be suitable for transplants.
  • You may be able to get your donated cord blood back if it has not been used for a transplant or research.
  • Cord blood research is showing promising results.
  • If you decide to bank cord blood for 1 child then you should bank cord blood for all your children.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) does not recommend private cord blood banking unless there is a sibling in the family with a medical condition that could possibly be treated with cord blood. The ACOG (American Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology) does not take an official stance on cord blood banking but they do say that the chances are very slim for the child or any family member to ever use that cord blood. In addition they say that there is not enough research to show how long cord blood can successfully be stored.

Overall cord blood banking is controversial and a very personal family decision. Do your research carefully before making any decisions. Do not be swayed by all the advertisements and literature you see by the big private cord blood banks. Don’t let these ads play into your emotions as first time parents. Do your research and make your decision carefully.