Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cord Blood Banking: What Every Parent Should Know

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.

I recently was invited to a breakfast at the landmark Russian Tea Room hosted by the Cord Blood Registry, the only cord blood bank involved in FDA research, to hear from Dr. McAllister, medical consultant and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, and fellow mom Shelly Connelly about a topic many families know little about: cord blood banking. When I was pregnant with Nia I vaguely remember hearing about it mostly via other bloggers, but it was never mentioned in any of my dr. visits or by the hospital when it was time to deliver Nia. 

Shelly Connelly and Dr. McAllister

What exactly is cord blood? Cord blood is found in the umbilical cord and contains stem cells which are regenerative and have been used in the treatment of more than 80 conditions. Similar to bone marrow, or other transplants, it has to be properly matched from donor to patient which makes usage within a family more valuable due to shared genes.

Meet The Connellys

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Shelly shared firsthand how cord blood banking helped her then-toddler daughter recover from a stroke after surgery to remove a brain tumor (you can watch her story here). 

In the midst of looking for treatment options she remembered the gifted cord blood banking her father-in-law had provided for her 2nd daughter. Once the family researched treatment facilities and vetted it out with the insurance company (while cord blood banking isn’t covered by insurance, it’s very important to check if your insurance will cover refusion as fees can be steep) they traveled to Duke Medical Center for what Shelly described as a simple medical procedure – it was a warm, welcoming environment with music playing and the family surrounding her daughter. Continuing with her occupational therapy, Shelly began to see improved progress.

What are your options for cord blood banking?

There are 3 ways to manage your newborn's cord blood:
  • Private banking - parents are able to store cord blood stem cells for the family's exclusive use

  • Public banking - similar to a blood bank, anonymous cord blood is stored at a facility for public use

  • Disposal - unfortunately, this is what happens to most cord blood: it's discarded as medical waste
Once you make your decision to bank privately or publicly all you have to do is to let the hospital staff know your plan in advance, request your banking kit from CBR and the staff will know exactly what to do. It's a quick and easy process! If you're wondering where the cord blood is store and how retrieval is handled, well CBR has a hi-tech, secure facility in Arizona that properly maintains the cord blood. 

As Shelly shared once you know you want to use the cord blood, retrieval is seamless and you don't have to use all the cord blood you have stored - they used 75% and saved some for future use. 

Looking ahead . . .

When the time comes for my future little ones I'm definitely considering banking either way privately or publicly.  Currently with less than 10% of cord blood being banked, education is key in increasing awareness of its importance. Despite it being quite expensive, as Shelly's experience shows you never know when the unexpected will occur, and it's a smart investment to make for the health of your family even if your own children aren't able to use it.

To learn more visit Cord Blood Registry to find out more about cord blood banking as well as this guide to determine if it’s a fit for your family. 

Were you familiar with cord blood banking when you were pregnant? Did you or anyone you know bank their baby's cord blood?