Disadvantages of Cord Blood Banking

Cord blood banking is a hot topic in pregnancy circles today.  There are many private cord blood banks and many advertisements in pregnancy magazines about the benefits of cord blood banking.  But, with all of this hype, is there really a benefit to banking a newborn's cord blood? 

While the technology and potential of cord blood banking are very exciting, the facts do not, at the moment, point to overwhelming benefits.  Here's why:

Cord Blood Banking Statistics

At the moment, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the chance of a baby needing its own stored cells is approximately 1:1000 to 1:200,000.  They also state that there is, at this time, no hard proof that cord blood transplantations that use a person's own stem cells are more beneficial than those using a matching donor's stem cells. 

Financial Negatives of Cord Blood Banking

Private cord blood banking is quite expensive.  When you meet with a private cord blood bank, they'll explain all of the fees to you.  There is an initial processing fee and a banking fee.  On top of that, there is an annual storage fee.  The initial cost for processing the procedure, for collecting the cord blood and for storing it ranges from about $600 to $1800 for the first year.  After that, the yearly storage fee is about $100.  This is a lot of money to pay for something that is basically an insurance policy.  While saving a child's life is, of course, priceless, the research does not, at this time, support the idea that cord blood banking is more helpful in saving a child's life than are other methods that are less expensive.

Other Alternatives

If you choose not to store your children's cord blood and they have a medical condition, this does not mean that there is no treatment available to you.  Regular bone marrow transplants with a matching donor are still an option, as is finding a cord blood match through a public cord blood bank.  It is important to understand these options so that you don't make a decision based on fear or future regret.

Usefulness of the Cord Blood

While private cord blood banks will tell you that the cord blood can potentially save your child's life, much of the evidence has not yet proven the power of the cord blood.  First of all, umbilical cord blood stem cells can only be used for transplants in children or young adults.  Cord blood banking doesn't provide enough stem cells to complete an adult's transplant needs.  So, the stored stem cells are only helpful in the event that a child in the family becomes ill.

Research has not proven that there are more benefits to the stem cells taken from a relative than those taken from an unrelated donor.  While it is nice insurance to know that those stem cells would be there for your family, should you need them, the research indicates that you would have as much success receiving stem cells from an unknown donor as you do from a family member.

These are some of the main disadvantages at the moment to storing cord blood.  This is a relatively new field, and the medical profession has only been storing cord blood since the 1970s.  Some argue that it is important to store cord blood now in the hopes that future research will yield more life-saving purposes for the cord blood.  While this is a possibility, it's not necessarily a valid enough point for the cost of storing cord blood today.

 

It is certainly important to know the facts about private cord blood banking and to become educated before making this decision.  Try to make an informed decision, and one that will make you comfortable - emotionally, physically and financially - for years to come. 

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