Read this if you're expecting a baby because it could save your loved one's life in the future.
Preserving the blood from your baby's umbilical cord in a family cord blood bank makes sure that your children will always have access to their own stem cells.
Storing cord blood can be a lifesaving investment, with statistics showing that one in every 217 people may need a stem cell treatment in their lifetime.1 Stem cell transplants can be used to treat over 80 types of diseases, which include leukaemia, lymphoma, and thalassemia, as well as certain metabolic and immunological disorders.2 Ongoing clinical trials are also underway to use cord blood to treat autism, type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury, and many more.3
Cord blood is rich in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which play an important role in replenishing the blood and regenerating the immune system. However, the odds of finding a match for a transplant within the same racial group are around 1 in 20,000.4 This is why storing your baby’s cord blood can be beneficial. If your child needs a stem cell transplant, he or she will be able to use his or her own stem cells, which are a perfect genetic match and eliminate the chance of rejection after the transplant.
Keeping cord blood can also help to save more than one life. Compared to other sources of stem cells like bone marrow, cord blood stem cells are younger and more primitive. This means they are able to regenerate healthy cells at a faster rate and pose a lower risk of rejection when transplanted to a matched family member. Cord blood stem cells are also easier to collect, and the process is painless and risk-free for both mother and child.
A study found that transplants using cord blood from a matched family member have a higher survival rate of up to 87 percent when compared to a non-related donor.5
What to look out for in a family cord blood bank?
Facilities that offer the optimum environment to preserve cord blood stem cells have become more common today, as stem cells have grown to be an increasingly essential procedure in treating major illnesses.
To make sure your child's cord blood can be used in the future, you should also consider the family cord blood bank's accreditations, the condition of their facilities, and how they process the cord blood.
Look for a family cord blood bank that has obtained international accreditation from organisations such as the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
If these groups have given the cord blood bank their seal of approval, it means that the lab that processes the cord blood and the place where it is stored have met high quality standards.
Make sure that the cord blood bank's laboratory is not run by a third party. By having their own facilities, the bank can keep a tighter eye on quality and get to resources right away in case of an emergency.
The method used to process cord blood units determines the cell recovery rate and viability of your child’s cord blood stem cells. The whole process should be done automatically to avoid contamination or mistakes made by people. Every step in the processing of your child’s cord blood contributes towards the quality of the unit.
Setting aside money in your budget to store your baby’s cord blood is a wise investment, but it will be for naught if you choose the wrong cord blood bank. So, conduct thorough research and protect your child’s future with a reliable partner.
This article was adapted from "Young Parents", Issue Mar 2018.
1Nietfeld JJ, Pasquini MC, Logan BR, et al. Lifetime probabilities of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the U.S. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. 2008; 14:316-322.
2For the full list of treatable diseases and references, please refer to https://www.cordlife.com/sg/treatable-diseases.
3Diseases and Disorders that have been in Clinical Trials with Cord Blood or Cord Tissue Cells. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation website. https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases#trial. Accessed June 13, 2016.
4Chew J. Criterion for new stem-cell transplant 50% match. The Straits Times. July 18, 2013: 12-15.
5Bizzetto R, Bonfim C, Rocha V, et al. Outcomes after related and unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation for hereditary bone marrow failure syndromes other than Fanconi anemia. Haematologica. 2010; 96(1):134-141.
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