the umbilical cord connects a developing fetus to the placenta. The
is an organ within a pregnant woman's womb. It provides oxygen and nutrients
to a growing baby, and removes waste products from the baby's blood. The cord contains
blood vessels that help carry oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the baby, and take
blood with waste away from the baby.
Why Is Cord Blood Saved?
The blood that flows
through the placenta and umbilical cord has a high concentration of stem cells.
Stem cells develop to become mature blood cells including:
red blood cells
white blood cells
are an important treatment for many diseases, including cancer, blood disorders, and
metabolic diseases. For many patients, umbilical cord stem cells are life-saving.
How Is Cord Blood Collected?
Usually, the umbilical cord and placenta are discarded after birth. If a mother
chooses to have her cord blood collected, the health care team will do so after the
baby is born. With a sterile needle, they'll draw the blood from the umbilical vessels
into a collection bag. The blood is packaged and sent to a cord blood bank for long-term
How Is Cord Blood Stored?
The two types of banks that store cord blood are:
Public banks: These process and store umbilical cord blood donations
for public use or for research. Once donated, it's unlikely that the cord blood will
be available for future private use. There are no storage fees. Mothers donate their
baby's cord blood to public banks to help other people.
Private banks: These store cord blood for personal use by the
family. The cost for long-term storage can be high.
Is Cord Blood Banking Right for Me?
If you're thinking about banking your newborn's cord blood, talk about your options
with your health care provider. Your provider can discuss the advantages and disadvantages
of public and private cord blood banking.
Private cord blood banking can help if you or a family member have an existing
disease that's treated using stem cells.
It's very unlikely that a child will develop a condition that can be treated with
his or her own stem cells.
Donating to a public cord blood bank may provide life-saving stem cells to a patient
Many doctors and researchers support saving umbilical cord blood. Most of us would
have little use for stem cells now, but research into using them to treat diseases
is ongoing — and the future looks promising.
If you want to donate your child's umbilical cord blood, talk to your health care
provider or contact the hospital or birthing center where your baby will be born.
It's best to start the process early in your pregnancy so you have time to explore
and understand your options.