One of the major roadblocks in stem cell therapy is finding an ethical, effective, and noninvasive source of those cells. The umbilical cord is extremely rich in stem cells, containing 10 times more than bone marrow. If frozen at birth, your baby’s cord blood could become an invaluable, potentially life-saving resource later in life.
At both Physicians for Women and The Madison Midwives in Madison, Wisconsin, our board-certified obstetrician/gynecologists and team of midwives can help you understand the benefits of cord blood banking. If so, our obstetrics department can facilitate the arrangement.
Understanding stem cell therapy
To understand the value of cord blood, it’s important to have some background on stem cell therapy and how it works.
Our bodies are capable of making all kinds of cells, ranging from the skin cells of our epidermis to the blood cells that carry oxygen, clot wounds, and protect against infection. However, these cells are limited in their ability to produce more of themselves, and you can’t get more brain cells from muscle cells.
Hematopoietic stem cells are different. These cells can mature into whatever type of cell is needed. They’re produced primarily in the bone marrow, but extracting bone marrow is a long and painful process, and it often produces only a small amount of usable cells.
However, the blood found in the placenta and umbilical cord is rich with stem cells, and it doesn’t hurt the baby to save the cord. In fact, it might even save their life if they desperately need stem cells in their future.
The value of cord blood banking
While many new mothers opt to keep their babies umbilical cord out of sentimentality, freezing the blood for later use has become an insightful precaution. With modern blood banking technology, the blood from your baby’s cord can be used to help your baby later in life, or provide an allogenic donation for a compatible family member.
The stem cells harvested from the umbilical cord can be used to treat all kinds of conditions, including:
- Immune diseases
- Genetic disorders
- Spinal injuries
Regenerative medicine is becoming a large part of many different treatments, even helping athletes get back into the game after what appear to be career-ending injuries. Whether you end up needing the cord blood for your own child or you donate it down the line, the potential makes it worth keeping.
How we can help
Cord blood banking is something that must be planned beforehand. You can’t impulsively ask the hospital staff to freeze the umbilical cord; the blood must be drawn from the cord, and a special freezing process is necessary to preserve the structure of the cells.
This is why cord blood banks exist. These companies provide the extraction and storage of the cord blood in exchange for a fee. Naturally, this involves some paperwork and a contract for storage, so you’ll need to decide beforehand whether you want to bank your baby’s cord blood.
At Physicians for Women, we recommend AlphaCord for this process, and we can put you in touch with the company and help you make the necessary arrangements.
To learn more about cord blood banking, schedule a consultation with our specialists by calling 608-227-7007 or by using our online booking system.