5 Reasons to Consider Newborn Stem Cell Preservation
As a new parent, there can be a lot to worry about—from following safe sleep guidelines to finding the right car seat. But one thing that can help ease future worries is considering newborn stem cell preservation (also known as cord blood and/or cord tissue banking), a simple and easy process that can be done in the minutes after baby is born. In fact, as you’re snuggling your new little one for the first time, a precious resource for your family’s medical future could be safely tucked away—just in case. Curious how cord blood and cord tissue banking works? Lauren Isley, Medical Science Liaison and certified Genetic Counselor at Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®), breaks it down with some of the top reasons why parents-to-be should consider prioritizing newborn stem cell preservation.
1. Newborn stem cell preservation goes far beyond just cord blood banking.
There are two ways that parents can preserve baby’s stem cells: 1) through cord blood banking, which collects and stores the leftover blood from within the umbilical cord after baby’s delivery and 2) through preserving a section of the actual umbilical cord, also known as cord tissue. Isley explains that both cord blood and cord tissue are rich sources of stem cells. Cord blood stem cells can be used in stem cell transplants, which is an FDA-approved treatment for over 80 different conditions, including certain cancers, blood and immune system disorders and metabolic conditions. And both cord blood and cord tissue stem cells are being studied for use in regenerative medicine as potential future treatment options. “There is a wide range of common conditions being studied in regenerative medicine clinical trials, including cerebral palsy, adult stroke and autoimmune disease,” Isley says.
Last, but not least, some private banks—like CBR—offer additional genetic screenings beyond what the hospital will do. For instance, CBR’s Family Protection Package includes both cord blood and cord tissue preservation, plus ReadyGen® test, an at-home pediatric genetic test. ReadyGen screens for over 200 conditions, and features pharmacogenetic screening to provide insight on responses to certain medications.
2. The umbilical cord would otherwise be medical waste.
According to Isley, one of the biggest misconceptions about preserving your child’s newborn stem cells is that it is somehow controversial or presents an ethical dilemma. But the reality is, a newborn’s cord blood and tissue are usually discarded as medical waste after birth—so newborn stem cell preservation can potentially go toward something helpful instead of just being thrown away.
“If families do not elect to donate baby’s newborn stem cells or preserve them with a private bank, people lose the opportunity to take advantage of this amazing biological resource,” she adds. Additionally, the entire process is completely painless and noninvasive since it’s done after baby is born.
3. Cord blood collection can be done with delayed cord clamping.
If delayed cord clamping is in your birth plan, good news: The cord blood and tissue collection process can be done successfully along with it. In fact, Isley notes that it’s a common misconception that parents think they can’t do cord blood or tissue preservation if they plan on practicing delayed cord clamping. “Research has shown that delayed cord clamping for 30 to 60 seconds after birth (the length of time recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) will often not significantly impact the volume of cord blood available for collection,” Isley explains. Beyond 60 seconds, there will be less blood left in the cord. But parents can still store the cord tissue, which is unaffected by delayed cord clamping. CBR recommends that expecting parents who want to do both delayed cord clamping and newborn stem cell preservation talk with their doctor to make the best plan for incorporating both.
4. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for baby.
If the cord blood and cord tissue is not collected at birth, it’s too late to preserve those precious cells. “Newborn stem cell preservation is a one-time opportunity at birth, so it is important for expecting parents to educate themselves on this topic so they can make an informed decision that is best for their family,” says Isley. Ideally, you’ll want to get the process for stem cell preservation going as soon as possible so you’re ready by the third trimester of pregnancy. Once you sign up, a collection kit is sent to you to bring to your birthing facility. Isley encourages expectant parents to research the bank they choose. With CBR, if something prevents cord blood or tissue collection at the last minute, there is no charge for processing or storage. “Private banks have different policies in terms of payment and collection fees,” she says. “At CBR, a family is not charged for newborn stem cell preservation until the sample is actually received at the lab.”
If cost is a concern, companies like CBR offer monthly payment plans that work for almost every family’s budget. CBR also offers the Newborn Possibilities Program® to give back to families who have a qualifying medical need. For example, if an immediate family member has a qualifying diagnosis of a condition that can benefit from a transplant treatment, the family may qualify for newborn stem cell preservation under this program at no cost.
5. Private banking reserves stem cells for your family.
Every stem cell preservation company has different policies, so you should always research the facility you choose, but in general, there are two routes for stem cell banking: public donation and private banks. You can donate baby’s stem cells to a public bank where they are available for people in need of a stem cell transplant, but there is no guarantee you will be able to access your own baby’s stem cells in the future without a large fee (though it is a possibility).
Private banks like CBR, however, have different regulatory requirements that stipulate that your baby’s stored stem cells can only be used by baby or first- and second-degree relatives. And if you and your family ultimately decide to discontinue storage and donate baby’s stem cells for internal research processes, you can take that route with a private bank as well.
It’s difficult to think about the possibility of something going wrong after baby is born, but Isley stresses the importance of taking steps now toward potentially protecting your family in the future. “Many people diagnosed with conditions that are currently treatable with newborn stem cells (and conditions that may be treatable in the future) have no family history of that condition,” she notes. Fortunately, even though the potential outcomes can be hard to think about, actually taking the step for preservation is simple. Choose a bank, sign up and have the kit shipped to you to take to the hospital. You just need to let the medical team know of your plan for collection and they’ll help you complete the steps.
Enter now for a chance to win FREE collection & one year of storage* from CBR.®
The use of cord blood is determined by the treating physician and is influenced by many factors, including the patient’s medical condition, the characteristics of the sample, and whether the cord blood should come from the patient or an appropriately matched donor. Cord blood has established uses in transplant medicine; however, its use in regenerative medicine is still being researched. There is no guarantee that potential medical applications being studied in the laboratory or clinical trials will become available.
Cord tissue use is still in early research stages, and there is no guarantee that treatments using cord tissue will be available in the future. Cord tissue is stored whole. Additional processing prior to use will be required to extract and prepare any of the multiple cell types from cryopreserved cord tissue. Cbr Systems, Inc.’s activities for New York State residents are limited to collection of umbilical cord tissue and long-term storage of umbilical cord–derived stem cells. Cbr Systems, Inc.’s possession of a New York State license for such collection and long-term storage does not indicate approval or endorsement of possible future uses or future suitability of these cells.
*Terms and conditions apply, see cordblood.com/pricing for details.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.