Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells, immature cells that can
grow into many other types of cells. Stem cells are now used to treat a limited
number of conditions, such as a sibling's
leukemia. They may someday be grown and used to treat
many chronic diseases. This could mean that your baby's cord blood may someday
provide a cure for a genetically related family member. The cord blood is drawn
from the umbilical cord and
placenta after the cord has been clamped and cut and,
for a fee, frozen and preserved. This process doesn't affect your or your
Early in your pregnancy, think about whether you want to bank your
baby's umbilical cord blood for possible future use. Sometime during your
pregnancy, you may get information about cord blood banking from at least one
commercial business that provides this service. You can also ask your doctor whether he or she has any recommendations about cord blood
banking. Umbilical stem cells are collected only if you request the procedure
well in advance of your delivery date. It is not a routine procedure. And
health plans usually do not cover the cost.
If you are interested in donating your baby's cord blood for research
purposes, contact a stem cell registry early in your pregnancy so that you can
provide all the needed medical information and sign a consent form.
Before your labor and delivery, tell your doctor that
you plan to have umbilical cord blood collected. Also make sure that the
medical staff attending your childbirth know about this before the delivery.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.