The umbilical cord blood was once considered a waste product that was discarded after a baby was born. After many years of research and hundreds of successful transplants, the blood from umbilical cord is now seen as an important biological resource that could potentially save many lives and treat various life-threatening diseases.
A newborn baby's umbilical cord blood is considered highly valuable because of the stem cells it contains. They include haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) which are capable of generating new blood cells, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) which can turn into many types of cells including nerve cells, muscle cells, and bone cells. Learn more about the major types of stem cells within the cord blood »
To help you understand more about the useful benefits of a newborn baby's umbilical cord blood, here are 10 awesome facts about umbilical cord blood every expecting parent should know. Let’s check them out.
1. Obtaining umbilical cord blood is completely safe
The process of collecting a newborn baby's umbilical cord blood is non-invasive, simple and painless for both the mother and baby. Umbilical cord blood is obtained after the successful delivery of a baby has been completed. The doctor will first check that both the mother and child are safe before clamping the umbilical cord and draining its blood into a sterile container.
At Cells4Life, we use a special umbilical cord blood collection kit that contains all the materials needed for extracting the cord blood sample and a printed simple manual / guide on how to perform the collection. Our cord blood collection kit also has a built-in cooling device called Nano-Cool that keeps the temperature between 2-8 degrees for up to 72 hours. An excellent cooling system that helps us keep that sample's viabiliy while in transit to the lab for testing and processing.
Watch Video: How Cord Blood Banking Works
2. Saving your newborn baby's umbilical cord blood could save their life in the future
The umbilical cord blood currently being used to treat more than 85 different conditions including many forms of blood cancers and metabolic disorders. If your child experiences leukaemia or another form of blood disorder later in life, their umbilical cord blood might be used to save their life.
By saving your newborn baby's umbilical cord blood with a private cord blood bank, you can preserve this valuable medical resource for 20 years or more, for your family's exclusive use. Other family members can also benefit from the stored cord blood sample. Stem cells from your baby's cord blood is 100% chance of a perfect match to the child, while there is 25% chance of being a perfect match to siblings. There is a possibility of the cord blood stem cells to be a match to the parents and other family members too.
In fact, the first ever umbilical cord blood transplant in history (1988) was performed to a young boy with Fanconi Anaemia using his newborn sister's umbilical cord blood. More than 30 years after the transplant, he is alive and well, and a strong advocate of the importance of cord blood.
Watch Video: Why Expecting Parents Save the Cord Blood
3. Umbilical cord blood is a non-controversial source of stem cells
Umbilical cord blood stem cells do not come from an embryo, so you will not be harming human life by using them. The umbilical cord blood is simply the blood that is drained from the umbilical cord and placenta — material that is normally discarded after birth. It is one of the ethical sources of stem cells and currently being used in more than over 7000 clinical trials to treat major illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease, autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and more.
4. You can choose delayed cord clamping and still obtain cord blood
Research has shown that a 1-minute delay in clamping will result to a transfer of about 80ml of blood into the infant, with more than 100ml of blood left for cord blood banking. The recommended times for delaying cord clamping are:
• World Health Organization (WHO) – between 1 to 3 minutes
• Royal College of OB-GYNs (RCOG) – 30 seconds to 2 minutes
• The American College of OB-GYNs (ACOG) - 30 seconds to 60 seconds
All of the above international bodies suggested not to go over 3 to 5 minutes before clamping due to the high incidence of increased risk for neonatal phototherapy, higher risk of polycythemia, hyperbilirubinemia and other neonatal disorders.
Cord Blood FAQ: Does storing cord blood take cells away from my baby?
5. Umbilical cord blood transplants do not require a perfect match
The stem cells in umbilical cord blood are immature cells. This makes them quite pliable and less likely to trigger graft-versus-host disease (gvhd) when transplanted. Scientists have discovered that umbilical cord blood stem cells transplants can even use cells that are a partial match.
6. Cord blood storage is becoming quite common
More than 5 million families have already stored cord blood samples in private cord blood banks around the world. Cells4Life currently have more than 150,000 cord blood samples in storage. The amount of cord blood stored is only expected to increase in the coming years as more uses for cord blood stem cells are discovered.
7. Umbilical cord stem cells will be important for regenerative medicine
Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field of medicine that looks for ways to repair, replace, or engineer human tissue and organs. The mesenchymal stem cells contained in cord blood will be an important part of this research as they can change into many types of other cells — allowing scientists to rebuild tendons, nerves, bones, skin, and other parts of the human body.
8. The cost of banking umbilical cord blood has dropped dramatically
The recent growth in popularity of cord blood banking has meant that economies of scale have come into effect. This has made cord blood banking much more affordable.
9. Cord blood transplants have been around for a long time
Although may people are just hearing about cord blood stem cells for the first time, the technology has been in use for decades. Stem cells were first discovered in bone marrow in 1963 and doctors were performing bone marrow stem cell transplants by 1968. The first cord blood stem cell transplant took place in 1988, when a young boy was cured of Fanconi Anaemia, a dangerous blood disorder. Thousands of successful cord blood stem cell transplants have been performed over the years.
10. Umbilical cord blood transplants have a higher success rate
Scientists have discovered that umbilical cord blood can be more effective compared to bone marrow stem cells. One study found that using cord blood improved the survival rate of cancer patients.