Attention expectant parents: Is cord blood banking right for you?

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received promotional item to thank me for my participation

Did you know that the holiday season is the time of the year when most babies are conceived? I guess the cold winter nights make couples want to snuggle, and all the celebrations (not to mention the champagne and eggnog) put people in a joyous mood!  After all, there's nothing better to celebrate than the arrival of a new family member, and with today's pregnancy tests, expectant parents can begin celebrating as soon as they see "positive" on a pregnancy test.

With all that celebrating comes planning -- setting up the nursery, finding a pediatrician, researching baby gear.  Unfortunately, one thing that most parents don't plan for is something that could turn out to be one of the most important decisions they could ever make.  I'm talking about banking their child's umbilical cord blood.  Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells, which are unique because they can develop into many different cell types.  The possibilities for medical science are enormous -- and those stem cells could save your child's life!  Cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of more than 80 conditions and are currently being evaluated in FDA-regulated clinical trials for their potential regenerative ability in common health issues including autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke, and traumatic brain injury.

However, because parents are largely unaware of their value, umbilical cord blood containing these pristine cells is frequently discarded. In fact, less than ten percent of parents choose to bank their child’s cord blood today. There are actually two options for banking cord blook: public or private banking.  Public banking lets parents donate their newborn stem cells at no cost -- however, there is no guarantee that your donation will be available to you.  Private banking stores your child's cord blood for your family's exclusive use.  You pay an initial fee for the cord blood banking kit that your OB will use to harvest your child's cord blood right after birth (the kit will be sent to your OB, who will then harvest the cord blood and send it to the lab so you don't have to worry about it).  Every year thereafter, you pay an annual banking fee.

We decided to bank our children's cord blood almost as soon as we knew we were expecting.  Since our kids are mixed race, the odds of finding exact matches for bone marrow from national registries are extremely small.  We figured the same would apply to stem cells -- if they ever had a medical condition that could be alleviated or cured with stem cells, their best bet would be their own stem cells!  We look at cord blood banking as an insurance policy -- but it's a policy that you can only sign up for at one point in your child's life, the moment after their birth.   So we signed up to bank their blood with Cord Blood Registry (CBR), and we've never regretted our decision.  CBR is the first and only newborn stem cell bank to pioneer FDA-regulated clinical trials with leading medical centers to explore the potential benefits of newborn stem cells for many conditions that presently have no cure.

If you think you might want to bank your child's cord blood, talk to your doctor to get all the facts.  Like I said, you only get one shot, you can't change your mind after your baby is born, so it's important to make an informed decision before your due date.  I highly recommend going to Cord Blood Registry's website to see whether cord blood banking is right for you.  For my family, the decision was easy.  If any of my kids ever get sick, I'd do anything to find a cure.  For me, that starts with banking their cord blood with CBR -- so that if ever they need it, it will be there.

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received promotional item to thank me for my participation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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