Baby's First Year · Parenting · Pregnancy

Umbilical cord blood banking: What is it?

New born baby, feet and umbilical cord

Recently at a prenatal class I was asked about umbilical cord blood banking. This family was looking for information about what it is all about and their options for storing cord blood.

Pregnancy is a time where you can gather the information needed for you to make the right choice for you and your baby.

What is cord blood?

After birth there is blood left in the umbilical cord. This blood contains stem cells and these stem cells have the ability to grow into many cells. The umbilical cord is usually thrown away after birth.

What is the process of collecting the cord blood?

Umbilical cord blood banking is the process of collecting cord blood at birth and storing it. Once the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut, the blood is taken from it. There is no risk to either you or your baby when the stem cells are being collected. Private or public cord blood banks will freeze the cord blood for storage.

Why do people bank cord blood?

The cells can be used for transplants that can treat diseases such as blood disorders, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases, and some kinds of cancers. It’s important to know that stem cells from your baby’s own cord blood may not be used because their blood may have led to the disease in the first place. In this case, cells from a healthy donor is an option.

What are the options for cord blood banks?

It’s important for families to make an informed decision if thinking about cord blood banking.

There are different types of cord blood banks in Canada. Private banks store baby’s cord blood for future use by the family.  Whereas, public banks store donated cord blood for the general public’s use.

If you have any further questions I encourage you to talk to your health care provider. You can also eChat or speak with a Public Health Nurse at (416) 338-7600.

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