5 things you didn't know about your baby's cord blood

Find out what you need to know before deciding what to do about your baby's umbilical cord.

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Did you know babies’ cord blood contains a large amount of stems cells, of which can potentially save lives? Though there is increasing awareness1 and information about cord blood banking, many parents remain unaware of these facts.

Here are some things you should know if you or someone you know has a baby due soon.

1) Stem cells are unspecialized cells with the ability to differentiate into other cells, self-regenerate, and perpetually create more copies of themselves; they never perish when stored in optimal conditions. More specifically, cord blood stem cells are of great utility to us as they can differentiate from a stem cell to become various other cell types in the body.

2) Hence, stem cells can fight diseases, where umbilical Cord Blood has been useful in transplants for various diseases due to their potential to treat many blood & immune-related illnesses such as Leukaemia and Thalassemia, as well as a few metabolic disorders.

3) It even lowers the risk of Graft vs. Host disease (GVHD). This is a common issue that occurs when the immune cells of the recipient’s body do not recognize the donor’s cells and start attacking them, leading to failure of the transplant. Cord blood stem cells are less likely to cause GVHD as compared to bone marrow and other sources of stem cells.

4) Furthermore, cord stem cells kill two birds with one stone as it can benefit your baby and relatives. Those stored in family banks can be used not only for the baby, but other family members as well, as the chances of matches could be higher versus the match using unrelated donors. This is subjective to HLA match & genetic status of the stored cord blood.

5) Cord blood collection is convenient and safe for both mother and baby. As the stem cells are from the placenta or umbilical cord, it is usually cut and separated from the baby and mother after delivery, regardless of whether the cord blood is saved or not.

Parents should still consult their doctors for advice before making a decision on what to do about their baby’s umbilical cord.

This article is sponsored by Cryoviva
1http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/more-donating-cord-blood-but-more-needed

Photos: iStock