Umbilical cord blood has been featured prominently in the media in the past couple of decades. It is often described as a “miraculous” substance that can treat many life-threatening diseases. This article will take a closer look at what cord blood is and how it can help secure your baby and your family’s health in the future.
What is cord blood?
When a woman is pregnant, nutrients will be transferred via the umbilical cord and placenta to the foetus. These nutrients help the embryo develop during the term of the pregnancy.
After the child is born, doctors will cut and clamp the umbilical cord, freeing the baby from the mother. The mother’s body will then detach the placenta from the uterine wall and expel it. This usually occurs within 30 minutes of the birth of the child. At this point, the umbilical is still attached to the placenta.
Umbilical cord blood refers to the blood that is inside the umbilical cord and placenta. It is quite different to the blood that resides in the other parts of our body. Researchers have discovered that cord blood contains powerful stem cells, hormones and growth factors that help the baby grow during the term of the pregnancy.
Doctors can extract any remaining cord blood from the umbilical cord and placenta after the birth has been completed — saving the stem cells it contains for future use in other medical procedures, also known as cord blood banking. This is a growing trend among parents as it enables them to preserve (freeze) their baby’s cord blood for many years until it is needed.
What are stem cells and why are cord blood stem cells so useful?
Stem cells are the building blocks of the human body. They are undifferentiated cells that can turn into one or more other cell types. For example, stem cells can change into skin cells. This is how your body produces more skin to heal cuts and other injuries.
The stem cells found in umbilical cord blood are considered as valuable because of their unique capabilities. The most useful stem cells from the cord blood are Haematopoietic stem cells and Mesenchymal stem cells.
Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can create new blood cells. This is extremely useful for treating certain forms of blood cancer, blood disorders, metabolic disorders, and immune system disorders.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells which can change into many other types of cells. This includes osteoblasts (bone cells), myocytes (muscle cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and adipocytes (fat cells). This attribute makes MSCs potentially useful for all kinds of medical procedures, from repairing bones to healing a heart muscle.
Another advantage of stem cells from the cord blood is that they are very young cells. Young cells are less likely to trigger an immune system reaction after a transplant. Doctors have even managed to successfully perform cord blood stem cell transplants when the donor is not a full match with the recipient. Currently, more than 40,000 cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.
How can cord blood protect your baby’s health in the future?
Researchers have already discovered that stem cells from the cord blood can be used to treat more than 85 different conditions, including:
- Blood cancers - Cord blood stem cells can be used to treat many forms of blood cancer including Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia, Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia, Ewing Sarcoma, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Myeloid/Natural Killer Cell Precursor Acute Leukaemia, and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
- Metabolic disorders - Some of the conditions treated with cord blood stem cells include Gaucher Disease, Hunter Syndrome, Hurler Syndrome, Krabbe Disease, Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, Mannosidosis, and Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome.
- Blood disorders - Cord blood can treat Acute Myelofibrosis, Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia, Amyloidosis, Aplastic Anaemia, Beta Thalassemia Major, Blackfan-Diamond Anaemia, Congenital Cytopenia, Congenital Dyserythropoietic Anemia and many other blood disorders
- Autoimmune disorders - Cord blood stem cells can be used to treat Adenosine Deaminase Deficiency, Bare Lymphocyte Syndrome, Chediak-Higashi Syndrome, Chronic Granulomatous Disease, Congenital Neutropenia, DiGeorge Syndrome, Evans Syndrome, Fucosidosis, and other autoimmune disorders.
More than 5 million parents worldwide have stored their baby’s cord blood as a form of biological insurance. By preserving your child’s cord blood stem cells, you give them the best chance possible for dealing with one of these serious medical conditions should they occur. Saving the umbilical cord blood stem cells may also protect the health of your other children — because cord blood transplants between siblings are possible. In fact, there is a 25% chance of being a perfect match to siblings. There is also a possibility that it will be a match for parents and other family members.
WATCH VIDEO: WHY EXPECTING PARENTS SAVE THE CORD BLOOD
Cord blood banking process is quite simple and straightforward. After the birth of your baby, once the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, the doctor or midwife will perform the collection of the cord blood sample which is then sent to the lab for processing and storage.
With Cells4Life, you have the option of 3 different cord blood processing technologies: Volume-reduced, Whole cord blood, and CellsPlus. Cord blood sample can be stored from 20 up to 60 years and they are stored in multiple subdivisions which allows for multiple treatment opportunities – meaning you can use just a portion of the sample stored and keep the remaining in storage until needed. You also have the option of storing the cord blood sample in 2 geographically separate storage locations which provides more security. Cells4Life storage labs are licensed by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) and we have more than 150,000 cord blood samples stored.
WATCH VIDEO: HOW CORD BLOOD BANKING WORKS
The future of stem cells from the cord blood
There is a huge amount of research into the potential uses of umbilical cord blood underway. Researchers believe that cord blood stem cells could potentially be used to treat:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Kidney disease
- Cron’s disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Ischaemic stroke
- Congenital heart defects
- Cardiovascular disease
- And many other conditions
By preserving your child’s cord blood stem cells, you may help them combat these conditions if they occur later in life. It could help protect other members of your family, too. Call us now and speak to a cord blood banking specialist on +971 4 3116613.