Monday, May 2, 2011
Health Care and Cord Blood
Stem cells are the body's "master cells" because they are the building blocks of organ tissue, blood, and the immune system. Stem cells from bone marrow were first used to regenerate blood and immune cells for patients who had received chemotherapy for cancer. In the late 1980's, doctors started using cord blood stem cells to treat diseases that had previously been treated with bone marrow transplantation. Today, cord blood stem cells are successfully being used and saving many lives. And they are being researched in an exciting new area of medicine called regenerative medicine, where scientists are using cord blood stem cells in experimental treatments for brain injury and juvenile diabetes, according to the Cord Blood Registry.
Birth is a one-time opportunity to help society by donating your child's cord blood to a public bank. Cord blood contains stem cells that can save lives. Patients requiring a stem cell transplant will receive cells from one of three sources: bone marrow, circulating blood, or umbilical cord blood. The first two exist in all healthy adults, but cord blood can only be harvested and stored at birth. The section on cord blood transplants explains that it is easier to match transplant patients with cord blood than with the two sources of adult blood. Hence, establishing public banks of cord blood from donors with diverse tissue types can save many lives, according to the Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Birth is also a one-time opportunity to help your own family by saving your child's cord blood. Transplant patients recover better when they receive stem cells from a related donor, instead of an unrelated donor. In the future, if there are regenerative medicine advances which can repair the body with the patient's own stem cells, then children whose parents saved their cord blood will have better access to those treatments. There is virtually no reason not to save your child's cord blood. The only cautionary remarks which can be made about cord blood banking is that the cord should not be clamped too soon after birth. Much more info can be found online at this site: http://www.parentsguidecordblood.org/content/usa/medical/medmotiv.shtml?navid=34 .
The use of cord blood has increased significantly in the past 15 years, according to the Cord Blood Registry; and as uses for cord blood expand, so does the likelihood that the cells may be needed by a member of your family. Based on the most recent data, the likelihood of needing a stem cell transplant is:
•1 in 217–for an individual (by age 70), using his or her own stem cells or someone else's.
Data does not reflect future therapies that may be developed and includes stem cells from cord blood, bone marrow, and peripheral blood. According to the New York State Health Department guidelines for cord blood banking, cord blood stem cells can be stored indefinitely under the proper conditions. In transplant medicine, having more stem cells can improve medical outcomes, including faster recovery and fewer complications if the cells are ever needed for treatment. Cord blood provides a way to accomplish these procedures.
Collection of the cord blood takes place shortly after birth in both vaginal and cesarean (C-section) deliveries. It's done using a specific kit that parents must order ahead of time from their chosen cord-blood bank, according to KidsHealth.org. After a vaginal delivery, the umbilical cord is clamped on both sides and cut. In most cases, an experienced obstetrician or nurse collects the cord blood before the placenta is delivered. One side of the umbilical cord is unclamped, and a small tube is passed into the umbilical vein to collect the blood. After blood has been collected from the cord, needles are placed on the side of the surface of the placenta that was connected to the fetus to collect more blood and cells from the large blood vessels that fed the fetus. During cesarean births, cord-blood collection is more complicated because the obstetrician's primary focus in the operating room is tending to the surgical concerns of the mother. After the baby has been safely delivered and the mother's uterus has been sutured, the cord blood can be collected. However, less cord blood is usually collected when delivery is by C-section. The amount collected is critical because the more blood collected, the more stem cells collected. If using the stem cells ever becomes necessary, having more to implant increases the chances of engraftment (successful transplantation).
After cord-blood collection has taken place, according to Kids Health, the blood is placed into bags or syringes and is usually taken by courier to the cord-blood bank. Once there, the sample is given an identifying number. Then the stem cells are separated from the rest of the blood and are stored cryogenically (frozen in liquid nitrogen) in a collection facility, also known as a cord-blood bank. Then, if needed, blood-forming stem cells can be thawed and used in either autologous procedures (when someone receives his or her own umbilical cord blood in a transplant) or allogeneic procedures (when a person receives umbilical cord blood donated from someone else — a sibling, close relative, or anonymous donor). More details are available at this site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/_cancer_center/treatment/cord_blood.html .
According to CordBlood.org, families have several options when it comes to cord blood banking:
1. Privately banking cord blood for the baby or family?s (blood relatives) potential use.
2. Privately banking both cord blood and placenta stem cells for the baby and/or family?s (blood relatives) potential use, which may increase the total number of stem cells banked.
3. Donating cord blood to a bank that may place it on a registry for a person in need of a cord blood stem cell transplant or for research.
4. Discarding the cord blood as medical waste.
Much more detail on each of these topics can be found here: http://www.cordblood.org/cord-blood-banking.html .
According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are usually two fees associated with cord blood banking. The first is the initial fee which includes enrollment, collection and storage for at least the first year, and the second is an annual storage fee. Some facilities offer a variety of options for the initial fee with predetermined periods of storage. The initial fee will range from $900 to $2100 depending on the predetermined period of storage. Annual storage fees beyond the initial storage fee are approximately $100, and it is quite common for storage facilities to offer prepaid plans at a discount as well as payment plans to make the initial storage more convenient you and your family. There are several cord blood banks that are accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks. Most offer information on cord blood banking as well as provide private cord blood banking services. You should be able to locate a credible cord blood bank online.
Consider this option when you are beginning a family or if you are expecting your next child. Cord blood registry and storage can be a vital way to help with health care issues that may develop with some children. It pays to be proactive with your children, and to consider all the potential options available to you when you give birth to your beautiful new baby.
Until next time.