Umbilical cord blood banking

Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, immature cells that can grow into many other types of cells. Stem cells are now used to treat a limited number of conditions, such as a sibling's leukemia. They may someday be grown and used to treat many chronic diseases. This could mean that your baby's cord blood may someday provide a cure for a genetically related family member. The cord blood is drawn from the umbilical cord and placenta after the cord has been clamped and cut and, for a fee, frozen and preserved. This process doesn't affect your or your baby's care.

Early in your pregnancy, consider whether you want to bank your baby's umbilical cord blood for possible future use. Sometime during your pregnancy, you may get information about cord blood banking from at least one commercial business that provides this service. You can also ask your health professional whether he or she has any recommendations about cord blood banking. Umbilical stem cells are collected only if you request the procedure well in advance of your delivery date. It is not a routine procedure, and health plans usually do not cover the cost.

If you are interested in donating your baby's cord blood for research purposes, contact a stem cell registry early in your pregnancy so that you can provide all the necessary medical information and sign a consent form.

Before your labor and delivery, tell your health professional that you plan to have umbilical cord blood collected. Also make sure that the medical staff attending your childbirth know in advance of the delivery.

Last Updated: December 4, 2009

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