Saving cord blood has become the newest phenomenon for parents of newborns. As a parent, you make many preparations for your child. You take every safety precaution known to man to make sure you are ready, and your child is safe. Most parents prepare the room and get the car seat together. If other children are involved, they want to make sure they are ready for a new sibling. A healthy child is of the utmost importance. Anything that is possibly able to save your child’s life in the future probably grabs your attention. Cord blood may do just that.
Cord blood is the blood from the umbilical cord. If you understand child development, you know that the umbilical cord connects the child to the placenta. A child receives nutrients through the placenta. Whatever is found in the mother’s system will also be added to the child. It is imperative to be mindful of the things you are eating and drinking. Alcohol should be avoided because it will affect the development of the child. As the placenta gains nutrients, it sends them to the child through the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord is flexible, and it does not only carry nutrients but oxygen as well. Blood vessels make up most of the umbilical cord. The veins carry oxygenated blood to the baby and the arteries in the umbilical cord carry carbon dioxide and waste out of the baby’s body to the placenta where it can be expelled. The blood within these veins and arteries contains not only oxygen and nutrients but antibodies as well. These antibodies are necessary for fighting disease.
When a child is born, the umbilical cord is cut. Instead of throwing the umbilical cord away, parents are deciding to store the core blood. The core blood is rich in nutrients and antibodies. The main component of cord blood is stem cells. Stem cells are those cells that can transform into any cell in the body. Stem cells are the cells that begin development in the womb. Most cells start out as stem cells. In a way, it is like a student that goes to college under the major of exploratory. They are there and know they have a purpose, but they are just not sure what that purpose is. Once they decide on a major, they continue down that direction and function based on the major they have chosen. These cells can be anything. Some get the assignment of skin cells while others may become muscle cells. The idea behind storing cord blood is that these stem cells will help heal future illness.
Cord blood storage is costly; therefore, it is up to you to decide if the benefits outweigh the cost. The greatest benefit of cord blood is the fact that these stem cells can be used to cure illnesses. Every part of your body is made of cells. When cells begin to die or malfunction, it leads to disease. For example, if your liver begins to malfunction, it is possible to cut off the area of the liver that is not working and use these stem cells to make new liver cells. It sounds very terminator like, but our bodies do have a way of healing itself. Blood-related diseases can benefit greatly from cord blood. When these cells are injected, the body will produce completely new healthy cells. When using cord blood cells, your body is less likely to reject them. Cancer kills your good blood cells. Therefore, cord blood can replenish the body by restoring it with healthy cells.
Although cord blood has saved nearly 20,000 lives, it has its drawbacks. One of the major issues is that you spend money to store the cord blood and statistics show that only one in about 200,00 kids uses their cord blood (The American Academy of Pediatrics). It is hard to know whether or not your child will get sick in the future. Even after going through the family history, you cannot predetermine the health issues your child may have. There have not been many cord blood procedures. As of right now, there are only a few rare diseases that can be treated with cord blood. As research continues, the hope is that cord blood can cure more things. If storing cord blood was not expensive, more people would probably do it despite the lack of health conditions it treats. The initial processing of cord blood cost about $1800 and then another $100 a year. Having a child is already expensive enough so most people are unwilling and cannot even afford to pay this.
Cord blood is still in its research stages. It is currently a treatment for very few diseases. It is good in that it can replenish the body with healthy cells. Using cord blood also lowers the risk of rejection in the body. Cord blood storage is very costly, and it is rare that it will even be used. Deciding to store cord blood is neither right or wrong. Storing core blood as of right now is just a preventative measure. Your child may never use it or need it, which is great. If you are considering cord blood storage, speak with your OB/GYN. Get all the facts you can so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
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