Shortly after announcing you were pregnant, you may have had a friend or family member ask if you were going to bank your baby’s umbilical cord blood after giving birth. Whether you had already heard of this procedure or were unaware that such an option exists, you are definitely intrigued by the idea and want to learn as much about it as you can prior to delivery.
With this in mind, if you are expecting and interested in cord blood banking for your baby, take the following into consideration:
Cord Blood Banking Basics
The blood inside your developing baby’s umbilical cord is rich in stem cells that grow into organs, tissues and blood vessels. Stem cells are already being used to treat a number of diseases and are currently the subject of FDA-regulated clinical trials to see if they might help people who have had a brain injury, or have been diagnosed with autism. If you decide to bank cord blood, the blood that is left inside your baby’s umbilical cord will be collected and stored for future medical use. The process is painless and safe and can be done after either a vaginal delivery or a c-section. The blood is then shipped and stored at a cord blood bank.
Know the Odds
While the idea of storing cord blood stem cells that may potentially save the life of your child, a sibling, your spouse or your own life is appealing. Parents notes that the vast majority of families will likely not need to use the stored cord blood. One estimate puts the odds of using stored cells at 1 in 20,000. Having said that, families that are at a higher risk for developing diseases that stem cells might help — for example, leukemia — may wish to look into cord blood banking.
Consider the Cost
Banking umbilical cord blood is an on-going cost that may be a budget buster for some families. If you opt for a company that offers private cord banking, you will typically pay up to $2,000 for the collection and registration, and then a fixed amount per year to store it. This chart offers helpful information on the average cost of cord blood banking — overall, collecting and storing the blood for up to 20 years can range between $3,500 and $4,200. If you do decide to bank the cord blood and/or cord tissue and placenta tissue stem cells, compare the costs and ask lots of questions of each cord blood banking service to be sure you are getting the best storage options at the most reasonable price; this includes checking to see if the company is an FDA/AABB accredited lab.
Talk to Your OB/GYN
If you are interested in pursuing cord blood banking, be sure to make your wishes known to your OB/GYN. Because nearly all cord blood banks require that expectant moms are tested for a number of infections including HIV, hepatitis, syphilis and more, you will likely need to arrange for these tests with your doctor. Be aware that this lab work is not always covered by insurance; you may want to call your company to check so you are not blindsided by a bill.
When it comes to banking cord blood, there is no right or wrong answer — you have to make the most educated and best decision based on you and your family. By taking into consideration a number of factors, including the average cost of cord blood banking, your family’s health risk factors and potentially expensive lab tests, you will be better equipped to make this decision.