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Every month, thousands of parents are choosing to give a powerful gift to their newborns: Cord Blood Banking. Learn how you can help protect your baby's future health by banking their cord blood stem cells. Visit the Cord Banking Basics

Banking Your Baby's Cord Blood - A Serious Option for Pregnant Parents to Consider

Robert Sears, MD

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Heart Attacks. Doctors have infused stem cells into the damaged heart muscle of numerous heart attack patients to see if the cells would generate new heart tissue and repair the damage. Results so far look promising.

Coronary Artery Disease. Doctors have infused stem cells in the hearts of patients with clogged arteries. The stem cells helped new blood vessels grow around the blocked arteries, thus improving blood flow to the areas in the heart at risk of damage.

Vascular Disease. Stem cells have been shown to grow new blood vessels around narrowed or damaged arteries in the limbs and restore impaired blood flow.

Nerve and Brain Damage. Researchers have recently shown in a laboratory setting that human stem cells can mature into nerve cells. The implication of this for treating a variety of neurological problems is astounding.

Strokes. Researchers have shown that infusing human stem cells into rats improves brain function after a stroke or traumatic brain injury.

Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors have infused stem cells into patients with MS and have shown mild improvement in their disease.

Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) is the number one cause of death. If stem cell treatments become a viable and routine option for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease, then having banked stem cells will be an enormous advantage. If researchers continue to show stem cells' ability to regenerate damaged or diseased brain tissue, then the possibility for treating neurological conditions such as MS, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's is exciting. Diabetes is another disease that is affecting more and more people. If stem cells could regenerate new pancreas tissue, millions of people could benefit. Who knows where we'll be with stem cell treatments in 10 or 20 years?

Cancer and other blood-related disorders. Besides these exciting possibilities, there are still the current uses for treating certain cancers and other blood problems. Recent research shows the odds that a child will someday need to use his or her own newborn stem cells for current treatments are estimated at 1 in 400*. Odds that the newborn or a family member may benefit from banked cord blood are estimated at 1 in 200*.

Stem cells can either be taken from the patient's or a matching family member's bone marrow, or from stored cord blood. Here are some benefits when cord blood is used instead of bone marrow:

  • Research has shown that survival rates double when a person's own cord blood or a family member's cord blood is used, compared to using an unrelated donor sample from a public stem cell bank.

  • Having your own private sample ensures immediate availability of a perfectly matched sample.

  • While bone marrow can also be a source of stem cells if needed, cord blood stem cells are easier to match for family members, thus increasing the chance that a family member can receive a related stem cell transplant.

  • Research has shown that patients who receive cord blood stem cell transplants have a smaller chance of rejecting the cells, compared to bone marrow stem cell transplants.

During my pediatric training I spent two months in the Children's Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant ward. I watched numerous kids undergo these transplants. Kids who used their own bone marrow, or a family member's marrow, faired much better. This is one reason I decided to bank my child's cord blood. It provides some peace of mind that if ever our family is faced with such a challenge, we will have better treatment options available to us.

*Pasquini MC, Logan BR, Verter F, Horowitz MM, Nietfeld JJ. The Likelihood of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HCT) in the United States: Implications for Umbilical Cord Blood Storage. Blood 2005; 106(11): 1330.

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Real People & Real Stories

"There is no gift more valuable than storing our son Hunter's cord blood for him and our family. We would never be able to forgive ourselves if we were aware this was possible and didn't take advantage of it. It is the perfect insurance policy."
- Christina and James D.

"I was shocked that cord blood could be used to treat so many diseases. One of the doctors even called it liquid gold."
- Kristi W.

View more Real People, Real Stories:
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