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How beneficial is it to preserve cord blood cells and tissues for new born baby?

Answered by
Dr. Aarti Abraham


Practicing since :1998

Answered : 6012 Questions

Posted on Wed, 23 Jan 2013 in Child Birth
Question: How beneficial is it to preserve cord blood cells & tissues (stem cells & tissue) for new born baby ? Is it really helpful in treating major diseases ? I want to know the practicality of preserved stem cell (& tissue) while treating life threatening diseases. Should one really go for it or is it useless to run after this concept simply because of an upcoming trend (and is not of much practical use in future) ? I want to have an unbiased and terse yet meaningful advice on this as my wife is expecting and it's a high time to enroll if this concept is really helpful. Kindly provide your valuable suggestions if I should go ahead with cord blood stem cells & tissue preservation for my new born baby ?

Thank you !
Answered by Dr. Aarti Abraham 2 hours later

Thanks for writing to us.

Cord blood banking has sparked fierce debate in the scientific and medical community, mostly because the cost of private cord blood banking is high and the chances your family will use the blood are low. It is expensive because the cost of processing cord blood and storing it in medical freezers for years on end is considerable.

Two indications exist for use of cord blood cells :

1. Where it is a standard therapy for conditions - leukemias, lymphomas, immune disorders, metabolic disorders, etc.
Recent studies have shown that cord blood has unique advantages over traditional bone marrow transplantation, particularly in children, and can be life-saving in rare cases where a suitable bone-marrow donor cannot be found. Approximately 50% of patients requiring a bone marrow transplant will not find a suitable donor within a critical period. In certain instances, there may be some medical issues around using one's own cord blood cells, as well as availability of cells, which will require treatments done using cells from another donor, with the vast majority being unrelated donors. However, studies have shown that cord blood stem cells can also be used for siblings and other members of your family who have a matching tissue type. Siblings have up to a 75% chance of compatibility, and the cord blood may even be a match for parents (50%) and grandparents.

2. Clinical trials are underway - Also, research is underway for utilization of cord blood stem cells for treating diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke etc, but this is in the research phase. The future does hold promise for these applications. It is also under trial for disorders like cerebral palsy, autism etc, which might affect a child after birth.

That being said, no accurate estimates exist of the likelihood of children to need their own stored cells. The range of available estimates is from 1:1000 to 1:200,000. Empirical evidence that children will need their own cord blood for future use is lacking. There also is no evidence of the safety or effectiveness of autologous cord blood transplantation for the treatment of malignant neoplasms. For these reasons, it is difficult to recommend that parents store their children's cord blood for future use.

I can recommend an excellent website for further reading.
The consensus of various international societies is mentioned below for your perusal
- The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2006 opinion states, "There is still insufficient evidence to recommend directed commercial cord blood collection and stem-cell storage in low-risk families XXXXXXX
- The policy of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) supports public cord blood banking (similar to collection and banking of other blood products, i.e. altruistic, anyone can use it), as well as stating it should be considered under certain circumstances.
- The policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics states that "private storage of cord blood as 'biological insurance' is unwise" unless there is a family member with a current or potential need to undergo a stem cell transplantation.
- Similarly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend private cord blood banking.

Ultimately , the decision is a highly individualized one, considering your family profile, finances and the information available at present to you. only you can decide whether private cord blood banking is right for your family. If your family has a history of diseases, such as leukaemia, lymphomas, sickle-cell anaemia, immune deficiency disorders, aplastic anaemia or thalassaemia, cord blood storage may be a good idea, then your family's odds of needing a stem cell transplant are higher than the general population's. Your could choose for cord blood banking if there is a faimily history of genetically transmitted illness as listed above.

If you've decided to opt for cord blood banking,
1. Ensure that you choose a well-reputed bank, which is certified, has technological expertise and experience.
2. As a client you must choose a company which offers banking and stem cell therapy options to you. If the stem cell banking company does not provide therapy options, then the purpose of banking is defeated. If they do not invest in trials or do not take definite steps towards stem cell therapy, they are probably not providing enough for the price they charge their clients.
3. It is advisable to choose a bank which has its storage facility situated at a location less prone to natural disasters like floods or earthquakes etc. Also find out if their storage facility has power back up and generators, monitoring systems in place that ensure a controlled environment all the time.
4. The storage facility must also be protected against fire.
5. The bank you are considering should have a good network, accessibility and tie ups with hospitals to ensure that they will be able to deliver your child's stored cord blood cells soon enough when the need arises.

I hope I have been able to clarify all points. Feel free to ask for further clarification

Best Regards

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad

The User accepted the expert's answer

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