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Cord blood banking

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Last week we discussed donating breastmilk to milk banks. This week we wanted to discuss another donating option. One of the new areas of medicine is using stem cells for a variety of immune purposes.

Both the cord blood and the placenta are full of stem cells which can be turned into different kinds of blood cells. The umbilical cord is attached to the placenta and is the main way your baby receives blood and nutrients in the womb. Those blood cells can then be used to treat diseases of the blood and the immune system such as leukemia, some cancers, sickle cell anemia, and some metabolic disorders. This is an alternative to bone marrow--- it is less painful and the stem cells are specific to each individual they come from.

You can either choose to donate your cord blood to match with someone else or you can bank it for later use. Both options have pro's. If you bank you stem cells they will always be available to your child or other children if needed---although at a cost. If you donate the cord blood, you are giving the immunity to another individual who's life depends on it, however, you will not be able to access them afterwards.

One of the main problems is availability of stem cells. Like organ donations, sometimes it is very hard to find a match that your body will accept. The closer the make up is to you or your child's own blood the more likely it will be accepted.

If the stem cells are TOO different, the body will reject it and may cause, at minimum---no positive changes, or it could be quite detrimental and may cause harm. Therefore, having stem cells available may be a safety net for instances such as this.

Making the decision between banking or donating cord blood is difficult and must be considered at all angles. Some people may be more likely to need it than others depending on family history. This is a decision that you should make before birth so that your doctor is well informed as to what to do after the birth of your baby. However, one thing is for sure-- the cord blood and stem cells that come from it are a medical gold mine and if you are pregnant--- it is definitely worth considering saving them for future use.

To find out more about what Mamas Maternal Health can do for you, check out our website!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


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