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Should I bank my baby’s cord blood?

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Please bear with me as I try to figure this out. Maybe if I "think out loud" it may help me and other people decide what the best option is...

So, just to get this clear, we have 4 main options right? (well, 3 really):

1. do nothing/waste the cord (not really an option when you know the 3 others)

2. delayed clamping - let the blood go back into the baby. At this stage, if you delay clamp then you can't u the cord blood right? (This is as far as I can tell - please let me know if you know otherwise!)

3. Donate the cord to a public bank

4. Store the blood in a private bank


a. reasons to delay clamp:

- may increase iron levels in baby, reduction of specific hemorrhage.

- Particularly seems to be useful for pre-term babies


b. reasons to donate:

- chance you may donate compatible type to save a child's life

- particularly used at present for leukemia (which at present requires a different donor, you - can't donate your own blood for leukemia

- cord blood has been used to treat 80 diseases at present according to this site:


- possibility if the cord blood is not used yet, it can be retrieved for personal use later

- it is free/cheap?

**Consideration: is the blood in private stored better or worse than in public? Could the public cord blood go to waste? How much publicly stored blood/stem cells are actually used?


c. reasons to store privately

- a patients OWN cord blood can be currently used to treat many diseases other than leukemia (which requires a separate donor)

Risk: The child may or may not develop any of these illnesses

- it is not simply about blood, but about stem cells. The possibility that these stem cells in future may used to treat/cure a range of illnesses that they currently can't (I have read of great advancements in treating macular degeneration and cardiac damage)

Risk: the child may not develop any of the illnesses that can be cured in future, the cure may not be developed in time if the child/adult needs them in future

- may be difficult to find a public match, particularly if of a rare blood type

**Consideration: cost, and costs may change over time

**Consideration: maybe we will be able to get these blood/stem cells from somewhere else in our own bodies by that time as well, and not require newborn cord

**Risk: what if the storage company goes out of business? Is damaged by fire etc?


So, if we take money out of the equation, it comes down to:

- does baby need its own blood straight away?

- if not, can another use it in the near future?

- if so, is that more important than the POSSIBILITY of saving my own child's life, or improving their quality of life in the future?


Have I got this basically right? Please let me know if you think I have missed anything vital, so I can mull it over for a while! :unsure:

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Just a comment in regards to public donation: it is very limited; 10 hospitals in Australia, none in WA, SA or Tasmania. So, for the majority of people it is not currently an option.



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Hi Caitlin. Similarly to you, I wasn’t aware of cord blood banking when I had my kids, although it has been available in Australia for a few years now. As you said though, there are two types of cord blood banking: Public banking �" where the blood is donated and is available to anyone in the world who might need it, and: Private banking �" where you retain ownership in the blood and it is stored exclusively for you. That type of banking comes at a cost.


I have sourced an answer to your query from Associate Professor Mark Kirkland, who is a stem cell researcher at the Institute of Technology and Research Innovation at Deakin University. He is also Medical Director at private cord blood bank Cell Care.



What is it?


According to Professor Kirkland, cord blood is special. “Cord blood is different to regular blood for several reasons,” he says. “It’s different because it isn’t aged; it hasn’t been exposed to the environment. That makes a difference because all cells in the body have an internal clock that ticks down. So when we collect cord blood, we are collecting cells at the early stages of life, when that clock is set at the earliest possible stage. The factory-default setting, if you like. Cord blood also has cells in it of a type that we don’t see at any later stage of life and has immune cells which are totally unique.”


What is it used for?


The current use for cord blood is for bone marrow diseases such as leukaemia. In the future, however, scientists are expecting that cord blood may well be used for a variety of other diseases, such as cerebral palsy and diabetes �" two current areas of active investigation.


“The beauty of cord blood is that factory-default setting, particularly when it comes to the immune system” says Professor Kirkland. “The immune system develops throughout childhood. But of course if anything goes wrong during that period then at the moment you are stuck with it. A lot of diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, for example, occur where something goes wrong with the immune system, and the current thinking is that these cord blood cells represent the child’s immune system prior to that. So the hope is that in the future it may be possible to use the cord blood cells to restore the immune system.”


Is it worth the cost?


It does cost around $3,000 to have your baby’s cord blood collected and stored for eighteen years (you can then opt to pay for further storage). Essentially it can be seen as an insurance policy; a medical “just in case” type of thing.


“It’s a bit controversial, the idea of storing cord blood now, because these new applications for it are still under development an some people say well, how can you ask people to pay to store cord blood when most potential applications aren’t proven yet?" Says Professor Kirkland. “But I often turn that question around and say, well, what are the chances that there won’t be uses for these cells in thirty years time. And frankly the chances that there won’t be uses for them are close to zero. And some of those uses will be things that we haven’t even thought of yet.”


“Parents can see it as being similar to an insurance policy. Diabetes affects 1 in 250 children; cerebral palsy is 1 in 500. A recent estimate said that the chances of needing a bone marrow transplant (which you can use cord blood for) throughout you life is around 1 in 400. Storing cord blood from one child can also potentially benefit a sibling; there is a 25% chance of cord blood from one child being a match for their sibling.”



Of course if you do fall ill you can access cord blood from a public bank and generally the wait is only around two months. However the difference, according to Professor Kirkland, is in the quality of the match. “If you access cord blood from a public bank then it’s coming from an unrelated donor and most unrelated donor transplants are a partial mismatch,” he explains. “So to be technical, there are six main antigens and blood from a public bank might yield a four or five out of six match. With cord blood you can get away with not having a complete tissue match but the better the match, the better the outcome. If it's your own blood, it's a perfect match and even the benefit of using a sibling is that about 25% will be a complete match. It can be a seriously better outcome.”


And while the technology and take up in Australia is still fairly new, it should be seen as a long-term proposition, with the current medical thinking being that cord blood will hopefully be available throughout life. “People have been storing cord blood for around 23 years; the last study that I looked at examined cord blood that had been stored for twenty years and there was no change to the blood,” says Professor Kirkland. “So at this stage, as far as we know, you can store cord blood indefinitely.”


“I suspect that in thirty or forty years it will be even more important to have stored your cord blood because of course by then you have forty or fifty years of aging on you and have access to blood which still has the characteristics of when you were born.


I think it’s sensible. I am a bit biased of course, because I’ve been a stem cell researcher for twenty years and when you start reading the scientific papers about cord blood, every second paper is talking about the enormous therapeutic potential of cord blood cells.


If you think about where the technology will be in thirty years time … the potential is enormous.”



EB Members: Have you banked cord blood? Would you consider it?

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Just a comment in regards to public donation: it is very limited; 10 hospitals in Australia, none in WA, SA or Tasmania. So, for the majority of people it is not currently an option.




Thanks - you just answered my question for me.

Well my hospital does not collect for the public cord bank.

We cannot afford to bank it privately...this bub wasn't planned, so not in the financial state to do so.

Will see what the Ob recommends tomorrow about late clamping

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This is very important and i think i am convinced that cord blood banking is really really beneficial.Although there are many people who benefited themselves with this.

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Still think its more important for baby to get all the blood at birth delay the cord clamping....

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Hi All,


I replied to this topic one year ago and explained why I was in favour of public cord donation as opposed to private. Well, one year, lots of research and another baby down the road, I have revised my opinion.


I am now educated about Delayed Cord Clamping and believe this is the best way to go.


Basically all the hype you hear from the private companies (that want your money) is that the cord blood is simply medical waste - NOT SO!

That cord blood is actually your own baby's blood and stem cells that is naturally supposed to be IN your baby after birth.

In our society it is now usual for doctors to clamp the cord and cut it immediately so as to separate the mum and baby physically so all other routine procedures can follow. The cord in this circumstance does usually go to medical waste.


This is not what nature intended.


If you do NOT immedicately clamp and cut the cord, You will notice that the cord keeps pulsating for a few minutes or so after baby is born. What this is doing is returning the portion of circulating blood that is at that time doing its rounds of the placenta - back into your baby - where it is supposed to be.

Is it possible that denying our newborn babies 30% of their own blood volume and in effect stealing their blood and stem cells from them at birth could possibly be what causes many illnesses?


I am now really annoyed that my first two children did not receive their full blood volume at birth due to immediate cord clamping as I was never informed about this back then.

My DS3 born last year DID receive his full blood levels. The midwife checked his cord afterwards and confirmed that Yes - the cord was completely drained so he got all his blood and protective stem cells - Hooray!


Please research Delayed Cord Clamping before making a decision about this topic.

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