Are you or your partner going to have a child? First off, congratulations and good luck with the coming weeks/months of planning. During this process, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to prepare for. However, as parents have done for countless generations before you, you will find your way.
While parenting may change per couple, there are a few fundamental things that never change. Mainly, the love and deep need to have the child be born, be healthy, and have the best possible start to life. With this in mind, a growing number of parents are considering cord blood banking. While cord blood banking offers a host of potential benefits, the lack of concrete recommendations from many doctors have led people to question whether or not cord blood banking pros and cons is right for their child. As cost can make the procedure prohibitive, many soon-to-be parents may be placed in the uncomfortable position of either saving money or better ensuring the potential health of their child.
If you are in this position right now or you are interested in learning more, then you no doubt, have questions. Let’s take a moment to review the pros and cons of cord blood banking. But first, lets define what cord blood banking is so that we have a single definition in which to compare.
So What Is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking is the long-term storage of genetic material acquired from the umbilical cord shortly after birth. The blood contained within the umbilical cord has a high degree of stem cells in it, making it a fantastic possible treatment for a myriad of conditions. The process has been around for decades but only more recently has increased in popularity. Supported by private companies that provide the materials, processing, transport, and storage, the costs of such an operation are usually in the low thousands range and typically not covered by insurance. The procedure is minimally invasive and relatively straightforward. Blood cord banking usually requires a yearly fee in the low hundreds. An insurance against the unknown, many parents see cord blood banking as a way to ensure the continued health of their child.
Cord Blood Banking Pros And Cons
One reason why cord blood banking is such a divisive issue is because there are a lot of positive and negative aspects associated with it. In addition, with doctor’s not leaning one way or another when it comes to the practice, there is no general consensus regarding whether it is right or not. The end result of this is a great deal of hearsay, uncertainty, and confusion. The following pros and cons list is designed to identify these, as well as other considerations when deciding on whether or not cord blood banking is right for you.
The Pros Of Cord Blood Banking
Touted as the next revolution in early childhood and even teen hood care, cord blood banking has a great deal of potential towards providing treatment options if and when something happens during the development of your child. While the benefits of cord blood banking are frequently touted, it can be hard to separate the truth from the rumors. Below is a list of the benefits that have repeatedly shown up for people.
1. Provides a Treatment Option to 70+ Diseases
Simply put, stem cells have been shown to provide benefits to more than 70 different diseases. Some of these diseases include metabolic disorders, sickle-cell disease, lymphoma, leukemia, and many more. By collecting cord blood, you can provide assistance to your child if one of these things happens. In addition, the blood that is collected can be provided to family members or friends with similar blood types, allowing for the birth of your child to help someone else who is in desperate need.
2. May Be Covered By Insurance
Seeing cord blood banking as a form of insurance, an increasing number of insurance agencies are electing to have the procedure covered. Covering either a portion or the entire procedure, some couples end up spending very little to create a private bank for their child. At the same time, if the insurance stops or changes, then you will be liable to pay the yearly costs.
3. Is Minimally Invasive
The alternative way for acquiring stem cells is through a painful procedure where it is collected from the marrow. Compared to this, collecting stem cells after a birth from the umbilical cord is quick, not invasive, and not painful. Compared to the birth itself, the collection of umbilical cord blood is quick and easy.
4. Can Store Tissue Samples As Well
While cord blood banking is popular, an increasing number of banking companies are also doing cord tissue banking as well. Acquired at the same time as the blood, a small amount of the umbilical cord is removed and stored. Like the cord blood, the tissue sample can provide material for helping to treat a range of conditions.
5. Can Opt For Private Or Public Storage
When making a cord blood banking comparison, you should consider that there can be a range of benefits to both your child as well as anyone who needs stem cell. As a result, there is a great deal of public and private storage options. Private storage is used for personal use, where as public storage is a donation to a local hospital or organization looking to find additional sources of stem cells. If going the public route, then you will have many of your costs covered as well as pre-screenings to ensure that you are a healthy donor.
6. Provides Peace Of Mind
Having cord blood stored has been likened to having insurance. And, like other forms of insurance, the purpose of cord blood storage is to have peace of mind. Even if you do not end up using it, storing the cord blood means that you prepared for every eventuality.
The Cons Of Cord Blood Banking
Forming as a major backlash to the innumerable benefits of cord blood banking as advertised in media, there is a growing number of opponents who are taking issue with the claims made by the other group. As should be done when considering cord blood banking pros and cons, below is an organized list of the biggest problems people have had with the process.
1. Cord Blood Cannot Always Be Used
If the condition that the child is suffering from comes from the blood itself, then the cord blood will not be able to be used as it has the same inherent problem. An example of this occuring is with osteopetrosis, a potentially fatal disorder that can occur in children. Treated with stem cells, the cord blood saved for the child was not usable because it had the same problem and would not cure it as a result.
2. Cord Blood May Not Be Necessary
While being able to have a potential treatment option for 70+ diseases and conditions sounds smart, there is very little chance on average that your child will have any of these. As a result, cord blood storage is usually only recommended if there is a history and increased risk of it occuring with the child.
3. Acquiring and Storing Cord Blood Can Be Expensive
More often than not, getting the equipment, processing, and transportation fee out of the way means $1,500+. In addition to this, annual yearly storage costs can be upwards of $150 a year. While financing options are definitely available, these costs can be overwhelming for those facing other costs associated for welcoming a baby into the world.
4. Available Company May Have Bad Record
What companies service the area that you are in and work with your hospital? It may turn out that due to either time or location that your options are limited. If this is the case, then you may only have a company that charges a lot with a questionable history as your available company.
5. Another Thing To Plan For
While the process of acquiring cord blood may be relatively straightforward, it requires careful planning and even screening before the day of birth. It also requires that whomever is aiding in the delivery of the child knows that they have an additional role either collecting cord blood, collecting cord tissue samples, or both. With so much to think about and a questionable amount of potential good, some people steer clear of it.
6. May Be Wasted Money
You may go through the entire process and store the blood for 18 years, only to find it not helpful what so ever in the health of your child. As the total cost for everything can be upwards of $5,000, many parents would rather invest in their child’s savings and possible college fund instead.
Where Does That Leave Us?
As demonstrated above, there are many cord blood banking pros and cons to consider. When it comes to time to make the decision yourself, be sure to consult your doctor and go with the information you have at hand.