Cord Blood Banking

A parent's guide to cord blood storage

Cord blood is the blood that remains inside the placenta and the umbilical cord after your baby is born. Some parents opt to collect this blood and put it in a blood bank. Why?

You've probably heard of stem cells. These are the building blocks a developing body uses to create specific types of cells, including blood cells and the cells that make up organs and bones. Umbilical cord blood is very rich in stem cells, and banking it may save your child's life down the road if it turns out that he or she has a medical problem that can be treated with stem cells. It's a kind of insurance policy on your baby's health. In some cases, your baby's stem cells can be used to treat a disease that may arise in the parents or siblings, too, or you can give it to a blood bank as a cord blood donation for use by other people with life-threatening illnesses.

 

How Cord Blood Is Collected

There are two ways clinicians collect cord blood. Both are completely painless to you and your newborn baby and only take a few minutes.

The syringe method uses a needle to draw blood out of the umbilical cord a few moments after your baby's birth. Alternatively, the umbilical cord may be raised up so that the blood can drain into a special bag; this is usually called the bag method.

Find a Cord Blood Registry

If you are interested in banking your baby's cord blood, you will need to find a cord blood storage provider. Your doctor can give you information about local resources that can assist you in your search, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind if you want to look on your own.

In the United States, be sure that any cord blood storage provider you're considering is registered with the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Then, contact each cord blood registry individually and inquire about fees. They vary from registry to registry and can be high, ranging into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some plans include all storage fees up front, while others require an initial deposit and annual payments which must be continued for as long as you want to store the cord blood.