Baby’s Cord Blood: What Is It and Why Would You Save It?

Welcome to Risky Baby Business here at More Cowbell. We talk about moms and babies every Saturday over here, particularly those of the high-risk variety. If you want to catch up on the previous posts in this series, click here.

Today we’re talking about cord blood and what to keep in mind when you decide whether to bank your child’s cord blood.

What is “Cord Blood?”

After a baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut, some blood remains in the blood vessels of the placenta and the portion of the umbilical cord that remains attached to it. After birth, the baby no longer needs this extra blood. This blood is called placental blood or umbilical cord blood: “cord blood” for short.

Why would I save my baby’s cord blood?

Cord blood contains all the normal elements of blood – red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. But it is also rich in blood-forming stem cells, similar to those found in bone marrow. This is why cord blood can be used for transplantation as an alternative to bone marrow.

Umbilical cord blood is used today to treat many life-threatening diseases including leukemia, certain other cancers and blood, immune and metabolic disorders. Using your own family’s cord blood can have significant advantages in treatments, including fewer complications and improved medical outcomes.

What diseases can cord blood fix?

Stem cells have been proven to cure about 70 childhood diseases so far. Here is a link to some of the research that’s being done across the board.

There is a TON of work going on in relation to stem cells and their ability to combat:

  • HIV
  • Blood disorders
  • Cancer
  • Congenital and genetic disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Muscular disorders
  • Neurologic disorders

Cord blood transplants have been performed in patients with blood and immune system diseases, as well as genetic or metabolic diseases.

At the very least, I really wish it was automatic to donate every baby’s cord blood to the hospital if the parents choose not to bank it for their child.

How much does cord blood banking cost?

To put it into perspective, before we discuss how much it costs to save your child’s cord blood, lets talk treatment costs. To treat something like sickle cell disease with stem cells costs between a quarter and a half million dollars. Holy moly.

I’ve suffered so much with my blood clotting disorder that we decided that saving Baby Girl’s cord blood was a must-have bit of insurance, in case Baby Girl inherits it from me. 

To give you a ballpark figure:

  • We paid for the gathering kit and 20 years of storage in advance
  • It cost almost $4,000.
  • There are monthly plans that are reasonable if you don’t have this saved up front.
  • Storage is usually $150 per year if you don’t roll it up into a savings plan like we did.
  • Additionally, if we refer anyone to our cord blood bank, everybody (both the referred person and us) gets a year of storage for free.

We spent my hubby’s entire bonus check that year on a cord blood plan from PacifiCord and we’ve been very happy with them. Here’s a site to review and compare the top cord blood banks.

Should I save my baby’s cord blood?

That is an entirely personal decision.

As I said, for me it was a must. I have Factor V Leiden, a genetic mutation of the #5 gene that promotes the formation of blood clots. There is research being done to be able to fix genetic mutations  (like mine) with stem cells and I wanted my daughter to have a fighting chance to benefit from it.

It’s vital to include your wishes regarding cord blood in your birthing plan. For everything you ever wanted to know about birth plans, click here.

I wanted the delivery team to get as much cord blood as possible. Because of our birthing plan, they knew why this was important and they got DOUBLE the usual amount for us. This is a priceless gift they gave our baby girl.

If she doesn’t use her cord blood, some day she can sell half of it for a down payment on a house or for college expenses.

What are your thoughts on cord blood banking? Have you ever heard about it? Did you do it for your child? Do you wish you’d made a different decision regarding your child’s cord blood? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

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About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! My passion is finding those qualities that are unique in every person and every piece of fiction. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com). Write on!
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14 Responses to Baby’s Cord Blood: What Is It and Why Would You Save It?

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    Great post, Jenny! What a great resource! I wish they had this type of thing available when I was pregnant.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Kathy! We have a cousin who had cancer in her eye as a child and had to have a glass eye put in. Cord blood could have saved that eye. The parents have told us repeatedly that they wish it was a common practice when Anna was a baby (17 years ago).

  2. Chihuahua0 says:

    I never heard of cord blood before! The umbilical cord is an issue often ignored in fiction anyways, along with the blood issue, but I guess this is yet another element of life to think about.

    Perhaps I could ask Mom about the issue?

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You could ask your mother, but they’ve only really done the big work in cord blood banking in the last 10 years, so it probably wasn’t an option when you were a baby. They just threw the placenta and umbilical cord away.

  3. Hi Jenny.

    A great subject Jenny and one that needs plenty of publicity. I think cord blood is a gift that can’t be replaced, literally a once-in-a-life-time thing. We did the collection and storage, and the hospital staff were very co-operative even though it was a little new ten years ago. I’m not sure if its because we started our plan sometime ago, but we use CryoCell and its $50/year. I presume you meant “$150/year” when you said “Monthly storage is usually $150 per month”.

    Cheers!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Bless you, Nigel! That’s what I get for late night tired blogging. It is $150/year with no savings plan and I have fixed it. :-)

      How exciting that you were able to get this done for your child!

  4. Great information above. When I had my children (6, 7 and 8) this issue was just being researched and the medical advice I received, darn it, was that it wasn’t cost-effective. Truly I wish I had known of the benefits! But golly, yes, the $4,000 if saved over a period of years would have been worth it. . . but we couldn’t have afforded the outlay without having some time to plan for it. Anyway, I was grateful to read this article and I hope many women read it and benefit from it.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks for taking a moment to comment. I agree that the price tag is steep and that it helps parents to have time to think about this.

      I can’t speak to the monthly payment plan because we didn’t do it that way, but I do remember it being under $40/month for several years. If you think of it like insurance, it’s not that expensive at all. Still, if I didn’t have a known genetic disorder, I don’t know that I would have been able to swallow that outlay of cash as well as I did. :-)

  5. tomwisk says:

    In this age of science and wonder we need every tool available to combat diseases and genetic miscues. I hope your daughter never has need of the cord blood that has been saved.

  6. Reetta Raitanen says:

    Wow, the cord blood was totally new thing to me. I have no idea if there are even services in Finland storing the cord. I wish I had known about this before my children were born. I’ll find out and pass the information on. I’m counseling expecting twin mothers for our local multiple parent organization.

  7. Pingback: Link Feast vol. 8 | Reetta Raitanen's Blog

  8. Pingback: An Encyclopedia of cord blood baby | HealthCare Blog

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