Cord blood. It’s not something most people give a second thought to but it should be a hot topic of conversation amongst expectant parents, right up there with which pram, which cot, which feeding method, and the other big questions discussed in pregnancy. But what exactly is cord blood?
Also known as umbilical cord blood, cord blood is the blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby has been born and the cord has been cut. This blood is the richest source of stem cells that your baby will ever have and what’s more, they’re a perfect match to your baby. Additionally, they’re up to 40-60% match to siblings and cord blood stem cells are easier to match to more distant relatives than other sources of stem cells.
Stem cells are the building blocks of life. They are unspecialised cells which have the ability to reproduce themselves of more specialised cells. They repair and replace damaged, diseased, and dead tissue within the body. In fact, they’re so special that today stem cells are used as an approved medicinal therapy for over 80 illnesses including auto-immune conditions, blood disorders, and cancers. What’s more, there are over 5,000 clinical trials investigating their potential use to treat other conditions.
It is estimated that in the future, 1 in 3 people will need a stem cell therapy in their lifetime. Stem cells could unlock the promise of regenerative medicine, which imagines a time where, through tissue engineering, stem cells could be used to grow new body parts; from bladders, to valves, to hearts, and more. This may sound like science fiction but it’s becoming science fact. Organs and tissue grown from a patient’s own stem cells would be recognised as the body’s own and patients could avoid a lifetime of anti-rejection medicines.
Collecting cord blood is risk and pain free to both mother and baby and when choosing to store it in a family bank, like Cells4Life, the family has complete control over the sample. They can use it to access treatment for the 80 plus conditions it is an approved therapy for, and they can use it to access emerging therapies and clinical trials. Umbilical cord blood collection is compatible with NHS births, private hospital births, “natural” births, “caesarean births, and multiple births. In addition, Cells4Life’s exclusive, peer-reviewed, processing technology means up to 3 times more cells are available at the point of therapy making cord blood collection compatible with optimal and delayed cord clamping, giving parents the best of both worlds.
Naturally, no parent wants to think of their baby being ill. Unfortunately, as we age we are increasingly likely to encounter illness and disease. For parents who choose cord blood storage, many view the service as an insurance policy – you hope you never need it but it gives them peace of mind knowing it’s there if they ever do.
With it’s life-saving properties, parents should have the opportunity to to make an informed decision about their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells. After all, there is only one chance to collect them, at birth.