As moms, we do a lot of things in the name of safety. But it turns out saving your newborn’s cord blood doesn’t have to be one of them. Spend any length of time researching your upcoming labor and delivery online, and you’re bound to come across a private bank designed to store blood from your little one’s umbilical cord. Here’s what you need to know:
In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about cord blood banking. This involves collecting blood from the umbilical cord shortly after your little one is born. Rich in stem cells, cord blood has lifesaving potential and can be used much like a bone marrow transplant should a family member be diagnosed with cancer, leukemia or sickle-cell anemia. With the proper arrangements in place, the blood is removed by syringe after the cord is cut – making this a perfectly safe and painless procedure for you and baby. Once collected, it’s quickly shipped to a private blood bank, where it’s stored until you need it.
In theory, hanging on to this valuable stuff after baby arrives sounds like a good idea. But what are the chances you’ll ever need it? That’s just the question the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics are urging more families to ask.
The real costs and why you may not need it
Banking your baby’s cord blood in a private facility can be a costly measure. While rates vary, banks can charge an upwards of $2,500 for set-up, and $150 annually for storage. That’s quite a chunk of change for something you may not ever need. The likelihood of a child actually needing his or her own stem cells is so low that many experts advise against banking them in the first place. What’s more, there’s no telling how long stored stem cells will keep – or if the amount collected at birth would even be enough for transplant should an illness occur.
The bottom line: bank your cord blood with a public bank
A burdened bank account aside, there’s no harm in storing your baby’s cord blood for your personal use. But chances are, you won’t ever need it even though research in this area has made important discoveries in the past few years. Cord blood banking can be prohibitively expensive – and no one seems to be sure if stem cells have an expiration date.
But please, don’t let your cord blood go to waste. Ask your OB about public donation, and research options for public banking in your area. Donating your child’s cord blood is free, has no ethical or moral implication, and has saved lives. However, with public banking, be aware that your donation will be available to all families in need, may not necessarily be available if you personally need it in the future.
What do you think of cord blood banking? Is this something you’ll try? Share your thoughts in the comments below.