What you need to know
Cord blood banking is when you store or donate cord blood after your baby is born. Cord blood is the blood in the umbilical cord and placenta after your baby is born and the cord is cut. The umbilical cord connects your baby to the placenta, which supplies your baby with food and oxygen.
Cord blood contains stem cells that can grow into specific kinds of cells in your body. Sometimes cord blood is discarded along with the umbilical cord and the placenta after a baby is born. But some people consider storing cord blood so its stem cells can be used later to treat diseases like some kinds of cancer and anemia.
Storing Your Baby’s Cord Blood
If you’re thinking about cord blood banking, talk to your healthcare provider. You have two main options:
1. Donate to a public cord blood bank.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends this option. Your baby’s cord blood can be used for research or to help others. There’s no cost to donate. If your baby or your family ever needs cord blood, you can’t use your baby’s donated blood. But you may be able to use cord blood donated by others. Several blood banks participate in the National Marrow Donor Program, which helps families find cord blood if they need it.
2. Store in a private cord blood bank.
Some families choose this option if they have a child or family with a health condition that may be treated with stem cells. Storage usually costs about $2,000, plus a yearly fee of about $125. But the chances that your family may need to use your stored cord blood are very low — about 1 in 2,700.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees all public cord blood banks. Private banks register with the FDA, but don’t have to follow the same standards and safety measures as public cord blood banks.
Collecting Cord Blood
Your provider collects cord blood right after your baby is born. She usually uses a collection kit that you order from the cord blood bank. To collect the cord blood, your provider clamps the umbilical cord on one side and uses a needle to draw out the blood. The blood is collected in a bag and then sent to the cord blood bank.
When to Decide About Cord Blood Banking
Talk to your healthcare provider about your cord blood options at around 28 to 34 weeks of pregnancy. This gives you plenty of time to find out about different cord blood banks.
Put your decision about cord blood on your birth plan. A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby’s birth.
Not all hospitals let you donate cord blood to a public bank. Be sure to ask your hospital about donating cord blood.
© 2014 March of Dimes Foundation.