Everything You Need to Know About Banking Your Baby's Cord Blood

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umbilical cordCord blood is one of those things you probably hear or know nothing about until you get pregnant. Then, you hear about it all the time, likely seeing posters hanging up in your doctor's office and hospital, advertising the benefits. But do you really know what it is, or what the pros and cons are?

Here are 6 things you should know about cord blood banking before you decide whether or not it's right for your family.

1. What is cord blood? Cord Blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after you give birth to a baby. Up until recently, this cord blood was discarded as medical waste.

2. Why are people banking cord blood? The reason people aren't so quick to discard their baby's cord blood anymore is because stem cells contained in cord blood have been used to treat more than 80 diseases, including certain cancers and blood disorders. Today, they're also being used in many clinical trials as potential treatment for neurological injuries and conditions, such as cerebral palsy and autism. "Cord blood is a proven, effective source of blood-forming stem cells for people with certain diseases," Stephen Feig, professor of pediatrics at UCLA said. Cord blood isn't always a sure-fire treatment, but if certain diseases that could benefit from cord blood run in your family, it's probably not a bad idea to bank it.

3. How is the cord blood collected? After you give birth, the cord is clamped, wiped with antiseptic and a needle is inserted into one of the veins in the umbilical cord to withdraw a few ounces of blood. It takes, literally, minutes. One collection method (the more common method) is to hang a blood bag below the mother and let gravity do the work. Another way is to actively draw the blood out, like when you're having blood drawn for a medical test. 

4. Where is cord blood stored? You can either store cord blood at a public or private bank. At a public bank, donations are not stored for a particular person. Instead, the blood is available to anyone needing a cord blood transplant, or it may be sold for medical research. At a private bank, the cord blood is exclusive to you. The bank will collect, process, freeze, and store your baby's umbilical cord blood for you and you only.

5. What are the odds of my child needing the cord blood? The answers to this vary widely. According to most experts, the odds that a child will ever use his or her own stored cord blood are small. A 2005 study claimed that the chances are about one in 2,700. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests it's more like 1 in 200,000. One cord blood bank claims the odds are 1 in 217.

6. How much does cord blood banking cost? Private cord blood banks charge a first-time processing fee that ranges anywhere from $1,400 to $2,300, plus annual storage fees of around $115 to $150. Public cord blood banks claim that the initial collection, processing, and storage cost them about $2,000 per unit of cord blood. You can donate to a public cord blood bank for free.

Did you bank your baby's cord blood?


Image via RUTH JENKINSON/Science Photo Library/Corbis



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merma... mermaid13dragon

no we didnt di it. I believe delaying the cord clamp and letting my kids have alk THEIR blood flow to their body at birth allowed them to begin with a very healthy start...

there's some curious studies about babies needing their blood and those clamped too early not getting enough oxygen in their brain, interesting studies on learning delays.. not to mention the 4k cosf$$ ! Not for us...

nonmember avatar Mrs.Banner

Thank you for the information about why NOT to bank Mermaid13dragon.

japan... japanmommy

We did with my second. It cost $1200 then every year on her bday it's $100. With all the advanced they've made with stem cells and the possibility of her being born with a brain abnormality it seemed best for our family.

I've seen my friends daughter go from not being able to feed herself before an infusion of her stem cells to picking up her bottle and holding it unassisted a few days after. It's worked miracles for so many people.

nonmember avatar Sosie

I am absolutely donating the cord blood to a public bank, which as the article says, doesn't cost anything. And you have a better chance of helping someone who has a debilitating disease. We're all on this planet together people.

LoveM... LoveMeChain

I agree with you 100% Sosie.

Darcy Nestler

I am donating my baby's cord blood.  I didn't know anything about it with my first two kids and then my doctor was telling me about it with this one.  My husband and I talked about it and within 15 minutes we both came to the conclusion to do it.  I like knowing that my baby can potentially help out another baby or kid with cancer or someother disease.

Paws84 Paws84

We did with our daughter. If you can afford a vacation, you can afford to do this.

Blues... Blueshark77

We did. I considered it for a while then my boyfriend brought it up. We researched companies, found one, and put it on the credit card. If something was wrong with the blood or something went wrong with the collection we would have gotten our money back. If something happens to the blood during storage the company will pay up to $80,000 for a matching donor. Totally worth it.

Blues... Blueshark77

It was $2000 for collection plus 20 years storage,.

nonmember avatar Ashley

I think that not storing/donating cord blood is completely irresponsible. We privately stored our first daughter's cord blood and we collected our seconds and donated that after we determined she and her sister would be a match for the one we already store.

In terms of the cost, it is expensive initially (I think it was $3000) but the annual fee is minimal ($120 a year). You also can set up donation pages for baby showers which is a fantastic gift and a much better investment of $100 than say another swing or bouncy seat.

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