Being pregnant or being the partner of someone who is pregnant can be a stressful time. First, there are all the little things that needs to be taken care of. Are there enough supplies when the baby comes? How will the baby be taken care of in the weeks after birth? Is the house safe? etc. In addition, there are the greater changes of entering a new chapter of your life and preparing for the unknown and rewarding future that is still in your future. Regardless of these worries, however, a universal need by parents remains constant. Providing the best possible care, an excellent start to life, and the resources the child needs to live and thrive are at the top of their agenda.
In fulfilling this need to provide, parents review countless options and decide among themselves, individually, and sometimes, with medical help, what the best course of action is. For a growing number of parents, insuring the health of their child is starting to include cord blood banking. So, what is cord blood and why would people want to bank it? Let’s take a look at what cord blood is, what banking services are like, and what your options are in this process. In addition, we will consider the prices associated with it to ensure that you leave this page as informed as possible.
What Is Cord Blood?
Cord blood is blood that comes from the umbilical cord immediately after the birth of a child. It is notable because it is rich in stem cells. Typically, stem cells come from the marrow of our bones and require a painful procedure in order to extract. Cord blood on the other hand, can easily be extracted immediately after a pregnancy. If not extracted, then the cord blood would be thrown away with everything else as medical waste.
The process for extracting cord blood requires some preparation. First, you need to have a doctor or trained individual with you as you are giving birth. They will need to know what your intentions are and be able to act once the baby is born. As with any natural birth, the umbilical cord is cut and clamped. With collecting cord blood, a needle is stuck into the bottom of the umbilical cord and the cord blood drains out via gravity. The needle and the bag represents an enclosed system, meaning that there is a reduced chance of the blood being exposed to either a fungal or bacterial infection. Requiring only a minute or two to accomplish, the cord blood is collected and then shipped off to temporary storage in the hospital before heading out to a storage facility for processing and long-term storage. This is where blood cord banking comes into play.
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
The umbilical cord blood that you take during childbirth cannot be permanently stored at the hospital, as they are unequipped for this form of storage. Instead, the material is sent out to a long-term storage facility. More often than not, the individuals providing the storage will also be the ones providing the materials to collect the blood and process it on site. Being an all-in-one company, you will work with that company and the doctor helping with your birth to collect, store, ship, process and store again this material. Along with collecting cord blood, cord tissue samples will also be collected.
So why bank cord blood at all? Research has suggested that there are 70+ diseases and conditions that can be successfully treated with stem cells. Because there are a lot of people who need these stem cells and fewer donors, it can often take a while to get the treatment if you are in need. If there is a problem with your child, then having this reserve of cord blood rich in stem cells can make a big difference in providing timely treatment to your child if the worst were to occur. As many parents hate feeling helpless when it comes to their child and will do whatever it takes to ensure their health, cord blood is seen as an insurance against whatever unknown the future could possibly bring.
Though cord blood provides a range of benefits, it is also not without its limitations. For example, it is common for people to have cord blood stored, only to never use for its 20+ year storage. While it covers 70+ diseases and conditions, these are relatively rare and without a genetic predisposition or other cause of concern they are not likely to cause to your child. In addition, some stem cell fixable problems cannot be fixed by the stem cells coming from the child. For example, if the child has osteopetrosis, a rare and potentially fatal bone formation disorder, then stems cells in storage cannot be used because they are a part of the problem.
That being said, there are still a range of uses even if not used for the child. The umbilical cord blood can be used by other family members, friends, or even strangers with matching blood types. Even if your child never has to benefit from it, someone in the world can have their life saved by your child’s cord blood. Many couples consider this option as the birth of their child also saves a person’s life.
Types of Banking
There are types of banking available if you want to bank cord blood. The first is private and the second is public. Private banking services are who you will work with if you want to bank your child’s blood for personal use. It costs money that you will have to cover and you will have to take the initiative to set everything up yourself. That being said, the majority of these companies are professionals and will provide you with everything you need along with instructions.
Private cord banking can cost between $1,500 and $2,300 for the equipment, transport, and processing fees. On top of this, the yearly cost will be between $100 and $200 dollars depending on what service you go with. What most people will struggle with is the initial fee that is due early on as the yearly payments are far smaller and easier to handle. Some companies provide financing options to help ease the burden of covering these costs. Whether or not they include interest will again depend on the company you go with. As a final consideration, your insurance agency may be willing to help cover some of the costs. Seen as a form of insurance against potential future medical bills, it may make sense for your insurance company to provide this service and you should inquire before moving forward. While it may cost money, this family cord blood services may provide protection for more of your family, making it a smart move all around.
If you are interested in public banking, then you also have a range of options to choose from. Regional, state, and local operations all work to provide services in your area, sometimes, providing more than one option. When donating your cord blood through one of these groups, most, if not all of the cost will be covered. Along with mandatory health screenings, most expectant mothers will have to go in before their 35th week. Baby cord blood banking is far less intense than marrow banking when it comes to the procedure, and your donation can help to make a difference in someone’s life.
Where Does That Leave Us?
Though relatively new and growing in popularity, there are still a lot of questions that surround banking cord blood. If you are interested in the process, then you should ask yourself the following questions.
1. Is there a pre-existing condition in your family or your partner’s family that may increase the risk of a disease or disorder that can be treated with stem cells? If this is the case, then you should consult your doctor and carefully consider what options are available to you.
2. Is there someone in your family who has a condition that could benefit from having stem cells? More often than not, the cord blood can be used to help treat other people you may know, making the price more than worth it.
3. Is the procedure partially or completely covered by your insurance? If it is covered, then even if you are not that interested in getting it, having it done can provide you, your family, your friends, or even a stranger with a helping hand that does a lot of good.
4. Are you expecting any complications with pregnancy? More often than not, if there are complications regarding the pregnancy, then the doctor may not move forward with the acquisition of cord blood as the mother’s life takes precedence.
5. Is the peace of mind that cord blood can provide worth the cost? In the end, it all comes down to whether or not the planning, costs, and time it takes is worth the peace of mind that it provides. This answer will be different for every parent.