Pros and Cons of Cord Blood Banking

The blood remaining in the placenta and umbilical cord of a newborn infant is rich in regenerative cells called stem cells. With the rapidly growing awareness about stem cells’ potential to cure several blood, bone, and organ-related diseases and ailments, there is an increasing interest among the new generation parents to store the cord blood and stem cells of their newborns as an emergency reserve. The stem cells are cryopreserved and stored in stem cell banks to be used if a need arises for the baby or close family members to treat certain diseases or conditions.

Cord blood banking is an emergent enterprise that is available under public donation systems or as private reserves. Immediately after the delivery, when the umbilical cord is cut, a needle is inserted into the umbilical cord to collect a certain quantity of blood; the blood is sealed according to guidelines and sent to the related stem cell bank for processing and preservation.

What are the advantages of cord blood banking?

● A gene-based “insurance”

The present studies assert that the stem cells in cryopreserved cord blood remain viable for up to fifteen years. During the period of reservation, the hematopoietic stem cells can be recovered from the cord blood to treat various blood-related diseases, including cancer and anemia. Hematopoietic cells have the ability to differentiate into a range of cells like platelets, RBC, and WBC which makes it compatible with administering regenerative therapies for certain autoimmune disorders that modern medicine hasn’t found the cure for.

The stem cells can be used for the treatment of anyone who is a genetic match (usually close kin like siblings or even absolute strangers). If you donate to a public cord blood bank, the stem cells can be used by anyone who is in need and even for conducting advanced research in the field.

● More versatile in terms of utility

Unlike the stem cells collected from the bone marrow, hematopoietic stem cells can be used to give transplantation to more number of people because the former (bone marrow stem cells) necessitates a closer match in the blood between the donor and the receiver in comparison to hematopoietic stem cells.

In addition, the process of collecting cord blood is painless for both the baby and the mother unlike the process of extracting stem cells from the bone marrow of an adult.

● Different types of cord blood banks

There are mainly three kinds of cord blood banks viz. public cord blood banks, private cord blood banks, and direct cord blood banks. You have the choice to either donate the stem cells or reserve it exclusively for your family.

The limitations of cord blood banking are also worth consideration.

● Necessary arrangements

If you decide to go with cord blood banking, you must sign the necessary consents and make proper arrangements with the hospital and the bank to carry out the process. Last-minute requests to collect cord blood may reveal that the hospital may not be prepared with the necessary kits to complete the process.

In terms of expenses, if you choose private cord blood banking facilities, you are required to pay a relatively hefty fee initially for the processing and then annually for preservation.

● A limited number of stem cells

The number of stem cells in the cord blood is insufficient to support the stem cell transplantation requirements in an adult.
The availability of cord blood stem cells is also directly proportional to the number of people willing to preserve the cord blood. The availability of cord blood stem cells available for public use is dependent on the number of people who opt for public cord blood banking.

● Cost versus purpose

The stem cells from a stranger’s cod blood may serve the purpose just as well as that of a relative’s. The chances of ever using the preserved stem cells in rare unless there is a dominant genetic condition in the family that makes you prone to certain health risks. It is prudent to consider whether investing in cord blood banking is a necessity against the cost you expend on cryopreservation.