Cord Blood – Two Important Things You Should Know
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of awareness is “having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.” That’s precisely the goal of this month, July – Cord Blood Awareness month – to help families gain knowledge about the value of cord blood stem cells and realize how saving these precious cells could potentially benefit a family.
You may think learning about cord blood requires a science background or is a time consuming process. It’s quite the contrary, however. When it comes to learning about cord blood, there are really two important things to know:
1. Know what cord blood stem cells can do:
- Cord blood stem cells can be used today to treat approximately 80 diseases, and research is working to find additional medical applications for the future.1
- The use of cord blood stem cells in transplants rapidly increased from 1% of transplant procedures in 2000 to 22% in 2011.2
- Nearly 50% of all pediatric transplants now involve cord blood.3
- More than 30,000 umbilical cord blood transplants have been performed to date.4
- Cord blood is a better source of stem cells for transplant than bone marrow.1,5 Click here to read more about why that is.
2. Know what options are available for a baby’s cord blood stem cells:
There are 3 options available to expecting parents:
Saving a baby’s cord blood with a family bank, like ViaCord is a personal choice, but the reasons to do so are growing and include:
- Research shows using stem cells from a relative’s cord blood has been shown to more than double the chance of success. 6
- There is up to a 75% chance of matching between siblings. 6
- 1 in 3 people may benefit from regenerative medicine therapies.7 These type of therapies often require the patient has access to his/her own stem cells. Examples of regenerative medicine is cerebral palsy and type 1 diabetes.
Public cord blood banks will take cord blood donated by families after birth, but only from a limited number of hospitals around the country.
- Donated units must meet specific criteria to be accepted into banks. Up to 70% of donations are discarded.1
- The cord blood is stored and made available to anyone with a medical need and who is an adequate match.
- Families are not guaranteed access to their blood should they ever need it. Learn more about how public banks work in another blog post on the topic. Click here.
If a baby’s cord blood is neither saved or donated, the umbilical cord will simply be cut and discarded as medical waste after birth.
Educating expectant parents and others about the value of cord blood stem cells may help keep this precious resource from being thrown away as medical waste and ultimately help shed light on the life-saving potential of cord blood stem cells. Help make this Cord Blood Awareness month a success – share this blog post and your new knowledge about cord blood with others!
Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.
PR Newswire. The umbilical cord blood stem cells: prime source for transplants and future regenerative medicine. http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/cgi/news/release?id=341146. November 29, 2011.
National Marrow Donor Program®. Trends in allogeneic transplants. http://www.marrow.org/PHYSICIAN/URD_Search_and_Tx/Number_of_Allogeneic_Tx_Perfor/index.html. Accessed September 14, 2011.
Nature Biotechnology. Hemacord approval may foreshadow regulatory creep for HSC therapies. http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v30/n4/full/nbt0412-304.html. April 10, 2012.
O’Brien TA, Tiedemann K, Vowels MR. No longer a biological waste product: umbilical cord blood. Med J Aust. 2006;184(8):407-410.
Gluckman E, Rocha V, Boyer-Chammard A, et al. Outcome of cord-blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors. Eurocord Transplant Group and the European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Group. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:373-381
Harris DT. Cord blood stem cells: a review of potential neurological applications. Stem Cell Rev. 2008;4:269-274. Epub August 5, 2008.
Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that cord blood will provide a cure or be a suitable treatment option for that child or a sibling. Transplant success is dependent upon many factors including disease type, patient condition, recipient-donor relationship and matching, and more. Use will be determined by a physician. Cord blood use for emerging treatments is experimental.