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In Cord Blood: Is it Wise to Bank your Baby’s Cord Blood?

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In Cord Blood: Is it Wise to Bank your Baby’s Cord Blood?

Years ago, while in a prenatal, paternal panic, I came upon the prospect of banking my infant’s cord blood. At the time this just seemed outlandishly bizarre and the kind of preventative action reserved for only the certifiably paranoid or pessimistic. But in that classic mode of prenatal panic I thought best to consider the option of banking my unborn child’s cord blood.

I did some light preliminary research, made a few calls and soon found myself being contacted, almost on a weekly basis, by a congenial, but pushy, cord blood representative named Robert (I think). Robert’s job was to inform me, with unwavering conviction, that banking my child’s cord blood was about as important of an action as I could take for my child’s, as well as my family’s, future health. I was required to buy into a plan that involved a $2000 down payment and about $100 annual fee for continuing to bank the cord blood. While compelling, I eventually thought better of it and opted not to bank my child’s cord blood.

Since that very singular moment in time, I have been asked the question countless times, by expecting parents, of whether it is a good idea to bank your baby’s cord blood. My answer is always the same, “Yes and No.”

To give a little background, the practice of banking infant cord blood (it sounds much more macabre than it actually is) involves extracting the umbilical cord blood from the fetal end of the umbilical cord after it has been cut (and yes, after birth). This is done within minutes after birth and is a fairly time sensitive process, so the option to bank your cord blood has a finite window. After the cord blood is collected, it is shipped off to either a private or public cord blood bank, processed and then cryopreserved (AKA frozen) for potential later use. So why bother?

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Read more: Babies, Children, Diabetes, Family, Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

75 comments

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10:23PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Consider Americord for cord blood banking – Americord Donates Cord Blood Processing and Storage Costs for Children with Cerebral Palsy for parents that have banked with them. See http://cordadvantage.com/press-room.html

8:05AM PST on Nov 11, 2010

My child had a life saving stem cell transplant from an adult donor. Having lived in the culture of pediatric oncology for months, meeting families going through bone marrow, stem cell and cord blood transplants, I encourage the public banking of cord blood. It can save a life. Additionally, get yourself registered in the national bone marrow registry, www.marrow.org and donate blood and platelets at your blood bank.

10:30AM PDT on Sep 18, 2010

Personally, I would rather my child received this blood at the beginning of her life, so that she has the healthiest start possible. Why deny them this at birth, just to save it "in case"?? By cutting the cords immediately after birth we are robbing our children of all the nutrients, oxygen and stem cells that will likely allow them to be healthier as they grow. It causes a sort of suffocation, it is primitive and it is cruel. The cord should be left intact until it quits pulsating on its own, at least one hour after birth.

6:53AM PDT on Jul 27, 2010

i love the public banking idea, what a wonderful way to help others at no cost to yourself or others.

3:09PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

I think its a good idea to bank your childs cord blood. You might never need it, but than again you might never need your life or house insurance. In many illnesses, you cannot use donated blood. You need either a close relative or your own to reduce risks, and increase sucess. By banking your babies blood, it is good choice.

6:46PM PDT on Jun 24, 2010

I think mothers should all do this the reason I think that is because with the cord blood stem cells it help cure 80different diseases and it is encouraged for mothers to do this. Also your baby's cord blood is a valuable source of precious stem cells that can be used for your baby or an immediate family member.

1:09PM PDT on May 28, 2010

Interesting....

7:31AM PDT on Apr 19, 2010

interesting

6:27PM PDT on Apr 14, 2010

Always good to help if possible.

8:25AM PDT on Apr 12, 2010

Two things to clarify re: public banks. First, not all hospitals are set up to collect and donate, so make sure before you commit to a delivery hospital.
Also, its important to recognize that once your baby's cord blood goes into the cord blood system, it belongs to everyone; there's no way for you to get 'your' blood back if you need it. But you may get a good match from the public bank.
What stands in the way (like with many things) is money. If the private banks were less expensive more of us would do it. See this non-commercial site [ www.parentsguidecordblood.org ] where they list all the banks - public and private - and have charts on cost. Some don't charge annual storage fees, which add up over 20 years.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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