Being an expecting parent is an exciting and joyous experience, but it can be quite nerve- wracking. While you are looking forward to seeing your baby, you may be concerned about their health. Aside from the challenges faced during childbirth, parents often wonder how they should be safeguarding their child’s health for the years to come.
One of the most innovative ways to protect your child’s health is through the use of medical technologies like placenta banking. It involves the preservation of the placenta after the birth of a child. This allows the valuable cells contained within the placenta to be stored for future use.
In this four-part guide, we are going to discuss about our latest service, the placenta banking - what are the benefits to your family and how it works.
The Role of the Placenta in Pregnancy
The placenta is an organ that grows inside of the uterus during pregnancy. Its primary role is to filter blood so a supply of nutrients, oxygen, and glucose is available for the growing foetus. The placenta also helps to remove carbon dioxide and waste products which are produced by the foetus.
Several hormones are produced by the placenta during pregnancy, including lactogen, oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones are crucial as they help to maintain the pregnancy, particularly in its early stages.
Later in the pregnancy, the placenta begins producing antibodies which give your newborn baby immunity during the first three months of their life.
The placenta also acts as a barrier between the mother’s blood and the baby’s blood, which protects the foetus from infections. All the nutrients, hormones, stem cells, and other components delivered to the foetus come via the umbilical cord.
After the baby is born, the placenta is naturally expelled from the mother’s body. This usually occurs within 30 minutes of delivery. Doctors refer the expulsion of the placenta as the third stage of labour.
In previous years, the placenta would usually be discarded as medical waste once the child is born. However, we now know that the placenta has much more therapeutic value than previously believed, prompting many parents to “bank” their child’s placenta.
The Medical Applications of Placental Blood and Tissue
The therapeutic value of the placenta was first recognised in the early 20th Century, when it was used to promote the healing of wounds like diabetic ulcers. It has also been used to treat several eye conditions which could lead to blindness.
These treatments used the amniotic membrane, which is the innermost layer of the placenta. This layer consists of a basement membrane and avascular stromal matrix. It exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and contains growth factors that can accelerate the healing process dramatically.
Researchers have since discovered that the placenta contains other components of great therapeutic value. One of the most valuable components is chorionic villi, which are small vascular projections designed to increase the surface areas of a membrane. The chorionic villi is rich in regenerative cells including Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs).
MSC’s are multipotent stem cells which can differentiate into a variety of other cells, including chondrocytes (cartilage cells), osteoblasts (bone cells), myocytes (muscle cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). They are powerful cells that are the subject of a great deal of ongoing research.
Currently, there are clinical trials investigating use of the placental cells to treat a variety of conditions including:
- Cerebral palsy
- Dry eye
- Diabetic ulcers
- Inflammatory conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Ischaemic stroke
- Crohn’s disease
We’ll go into further detail on how placental stem cells and tissue can be used in part 2 of this guide, Placenta Cells: Benefits and Future Use
How Placenta Banking Works
After your child has been born and the placenta has been expelled, it is sealed in a special container by your obstetrician or midwife. This container is provided by Cells4Life. It is then shipped via courier to a laboratory where it will be processed and cryopreserved.
Once the placenta has arrived at the laboratory, it is made ready for cryogenic storage. Clients have the option of storing the amniotic membrane, the chorionic villi, or both. Both components have remarkable regenerative capacity and are the subject of many clinical trials.
Parents can keep the placental cells in storage for as long as 60 years with Cells4Life. If your child or another member of your family becomes ill, the cells can be removed from storage and used to formulate a treatment. Given the many research projects currently focusing on placental cells, the number of treatments that are available is only set to grow.
We’ll go into further detail on how placenta banking works in part 3 of this guide, Placenta Banking: How Does it Work?
The placenta is a remarkable organ that is essential for creating new life. The regenerative capacity of the cells it contains mean it can treat many medical conditions and may even have the potential to save lives. To learn more about placenta banking, contact Cells4Life on +971 4 3116613. You can also continue reading this guide to learn more about placenta banking.