Cord blood has become a much debated topic in the medical community. Women who give birth may have the option of having their cord blood collected for future medical uses.
Cord blood refers to the blood that stays in the placenta and umbilical cord after birth. Cord blood can be collected from the placenta and the baby’s umbilical cord. It is collected because it contains cells which may be used to treat some diseases that can occur in the blood and immune system.
Cord Blood Collection
The most common way of collecting cord blood is called a closed technique. Cord blood is collected because of the stem cells it contains. The blood is collected from a vein in the severed umbilical cord using a needle. This needle draws the blood up into a bag for storage. The closed technique allows for approximately 75 ml of cord blood to be collected. The extraction of cord blood is painless and simple.
Cord Blood Storage
The cord blood is stored in a cord blood bank which may be private or public. A private cord blood bank has the costs paid for by donor families. It is a very lucrative business. A public cord bank stores cord blood that is made available for unrelated donors. Some people will donate their child’s cord blood for free. This gives people who may benefit from cord blood uses but cannot afford it a solution.
Uses for Cord Blood
Cord blood is made up of the elements that are found in blood. It contains red and white blood cells, platelets, plasma and stem cells. These stem cells are similar to the cells found within bone marrow. Since it is so similar cord blood can be used as an alternative to bone marrow.
Cord blood can be lifesaving. It can be used to treat some people with certain diseases including sickle cell anemia, leukemia and lymphoma. This is done by injecting stem cells from the cord blood to replenish their blood supply with healthy cells. Cord blood is often used in patients with blood, immune system, metabolic and genetic diseases. The odds of cord blood being used are very low, but it is an insurance policy for parents who are looking to be prepared for the worst, or who have certain genetic diseases that can be treated by cord blood.
Future of Cord Blood
The beneficial medical uses for cord blood are being researched all the time. Medical professionals, researchers and experts all have high hopes that the stem cells in cord blood will be able to be a vital part of treatment for many diseases and conditions. Cord blood is currently being researched for diabetes, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and more. As research continues more advanced ways of using cord blood will develop which could help treat many different conditions. There are many different potential uses for cord blood including therapy at the cellular level. It may also be able to be used for regenerative medicine.
The decision to have cord blood collected is completely personal. There are many different treatments it may be used for, but the chances of those diseases occurring are quite low. If you have genetic diseases in your family you may opt to have your cord blood harvested and stored for added insurance. If you are interested in learning more about cord blood speak with your family doctor or OBGYN.