Birth and pregnancy are a time of high excitement, whether you’re a new parent or you’ve been through the process before. But it can also be a time of stress. Parents are presented with a huge array of options, many of which that aren’t properly explained to them, leaving them wondering whether something is the best choice for them or not, and sometimes not even knowing it was an option until it’s too late.
One of these is the process of collecting and storing cord blood so that the stem cells contained within it might be used in future for their children’s health. It’s something that many people are unaware of while pregnant, meaning they only find out about it at a later date and wish they’d known about the option for it. In fact, figures show that as many as 1 in 3 parents may not know about this life-saving opportunity.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells are cells which have the potential to develop into a range of different cell types in the body, including blood, bone, organ and other biological tissue. They can be found in a variety of different organs and tissues, however, one of the richest sources and easiest places to extract them is from the blood found in the umbilical cord at birth.
This infographic by Smart Cells details a vast array of information on what stem cells are, how they can be used now and the research that’s still being done into them in an easy to understand format. Research into stem cells collected from cord blood is still ongoing with huge developments happening all the time, meaning the possibilities for the future are endless.
How is cord blood collected? Is it painful?
People worry about investing in cord blood collection and storage as they believe it will be painful or harmful to either the mother or the baby. In terms of cord blood collection and banking, this is simply not the case.
Once you have delivered both your baby and the placenta, the cord is clamped. It is at this stage that a needle is inserted into the cord and the blood containing a rich source of stem cells within is collected. Since there are no nerves to either the mother or the baby inside the umbilical cord, it is a completely pain-free experience and non-invasive for either of them. It can be done quickly and discreetly so that it doesn’t interrupt the precious time the mother will need to spend with her new baby.
Why should I consider cord blood storage?
Imagine that your child is diagnosed with a condition in the future that might cause them discomfort or pain. You’d do everything you could to get them the best treatment to help with any symptoms or curing this condition. This could be anything from a traumatic brain condition like cerebral palsy to leukaemia.
Storing your baby’s cord blood at birth will allow you to access this for your child or their siblings, for whom it can potentially work, at any time in your future. It acts as a kind of health insurance, ensuring that if the time came, you are prepared.
A transplant of stem cells from your baby’s cord blood will cause the damaged or diseased cells to be replaced by healthy ones. They can be used to rebuild parts of your body to reform damaged areas such as blood, nerve and bone cells. Currently more than 80 illnesses and diseases can be treated using stem cells collected from cord blood, however, research into them means that there are almost unlimited opportunities for stem cells in the future.