Getting ready for a new arrival to the family is one of the most exciting times of your life. But before they welcome little one to the world, families will face numerous decisions that will affect their child’s future even before it is born – from deciding on the perfect name, to choosing a paediatrician and making their birth plan.
One decision that has been added to the list for expectant parents is whether they should save their baby’s umbilical cord blood.
According to recent statistics published by the BBC, more parents are choosing private cord blood banking than ever before, with a whopping 60% increase in cord blood collection and storage in the UK between 2014 and 2018. This number is expected to continue rising over the coming years as more families are increasingly recognising the benefits of their baby’s umbilical cord.
But what is cord blood? How does cord blood banking work? And what exactly are the benefits of saving cord blood?
I’ve teamed up with Cells4Life, the UK’s leading cord blood bank, to answer all of your cord blood banking questions and to help make one decision on your long list easier.
What is cord blood?
Cord blood is the residual blood that is found within your baby’s umbilical cord after childbirth. It contains billions of special stem cells which hold powerful regenerative properties. Cord blood is in fact the richest and purest source of these stem cells that your child will ever have.
These stem cells are already being used to treat over 80 diseases, such as leukaemia and lymphoma, and may soon offer therapies for many incurable diseases such as cerebral palsy and diabetes.
Is it possible to secure this powerful source of stem cells within minutes following birth? The answer is yes – by choosing cord blood banking.
What is cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking involves the collection of umbilical cord stem cells following the safe delivery of your baby and storing it for future use. Millions of parents in the UK and across the world are choosing to store blood from their baby’s umbilical cord to access regenerative therapies for their child in the future.
With cord blood banking, you can collect stem cells not only from cord blood but also cord tissue, for use in stem cell therapies. Cord blood banking is already changing lives with more than 1 million stem cell transplants taking place around the world since the 1980s.
The first cord blood transplant dates back to 1988, when a 5 year old boy with Fanconi anaemia, a very rare disorder, received the world’s first cord blood stem cell transplant
Over 30 years later, the patient is happy and healthy with his own family.
Over the course of a lifetime, there may be numerous occasions when they are called upon. That’s why obtaining as many stem cells is one of the most important things to consider when collecting cord blood. The more cells stored, the more treatments that can be done.
What are the benefits of cord blood banking?
1) Baby’s perfect genetic match
With donating your cord blood, there is no guarantee that it will be available if and when your family needs it. There may also be long waiting times and complications of finding the right match if needed for treatment. The chances of finding a stem cell match in a public cord blood bank can be as low as 30% and for some ethnic groups as low as 1 in 500,000.
However, by saving your baby’s cord blood, you ensure that their stem cells are immediately available and ready for use exclusively your child, if they were ever to need them.
Your baby’s cord blood is also their perfect biological match. This reduces the risk of rejection that would come with using a donor with other transplants.
2) Use for all of the family
Storing your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells could not only benefit your baby, but your entire family! There is a 75% chance of a partial match and 25% chance of a perfect match for their siblings as well as a 100% chance of a partial match for the parents.
Having your child’s perfect match ready and waiting ensures that your entire family always has access to a wide range of treatment options if you need them.
3) Access to proven therapies
Umbilical cord blood stem cells are the recognised therapy for over 80 diseases. Due to their unique ability to repair damaged tissue and re-grow and replace worn out organs, they are currently being used in stem cell treatments for various blood cancers and disorders.
These powerful stem cells have actually been used for a number of years by the NHS to treat conditions such as leukaemia, lymphoma, neuroblastoma and sickle cell anaemia. The quality of lives of thousands of patients across the world have been significantly improved thanks to cord blood stem cells.
4) Access to the future of medicine
Stem cells from the umbilical cord blood have been referred to as the cornerstone of regenerative medicine. These stem cells are the subject of more than 7,200 clinical trials which are using stems cells to treat various different diseases.
This exciting area of medicine is expected to bring some remarkable treatment opportunities within your child’s lifetime as scientists continue to discover more ways to treat more diseases with cord blood each and every day. On-going clinical trials are investigating the use of umbilical cord stem cells to treat brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and much, much more.
5) Safe and secure
Saving your baby’s umbilical cord blood is completely risk-free and non-invasive – yet could protect your baby for the rest of their life.
Cord blood banking is compatible with almost all birthing plans. So, whether you have a natural birth, a c-section or even a water birth, you can save your baby’s cord blood. The procedure takes place in another room after the third stage of labour, so you probably won’t even notice it happening, meaning you can soak up the precious first moments with your little one.
For many parents-to-be, hearing that cord blood stem cells are promising for treating a wide range of diseases is welcome news, making it an important decision prior to giving birth.
If you choose to bank your child’s stem cells, Cells4Life are the UK’s largest cord blood bank, offering cord blood, cord tissue and most recently, placenta banking services, which is completely exclusive to Cells4Life.
Why choose Cells4Life?
As the UK’s leading stem cells bank, Cells4Life have developed everything from their systems and processes to the range of services that they offer, and even the way in which they store your baby’s umbilical cord blood, to ensure that your child has the best chance at a healthy future.
Cells4Life have developed a unique processing technology called TotiCyte that provides 3 times more stem cells from the umbilical cord than the industry standard method. The number of cells collected is crucial, as it can determine how successful a stem cell treatment could be. The more stem cells you have, the better protection for your child’s health in the future.