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What are the Different Cord Blood Uses?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cord blood, which is blood that is collected from the umbilical cord of a newborn because it contains stem cells, has a number of potential uses but very few common uses as of 2010. The philosophy behind cord blood banking currently relies on the knowledge that someday cord blood uses will almost certainly be numerous and the blood may save either the child's or a relative's life. Cord blood uses may include treating brain injuries, blood disorders, or even hearing loss. Stem cells have the potential to cure a variety of major diseases, but it will take years of research to determine how effective cord blood can be in these situations.

There are many cord blood uses, some of which may include regenerating damaged tissue. It may be possible to treat brain injuries using cord blood. Treatment of cerebral palsy may be possible. Cardiovascular injuries may be treated with cord blood as well. It is thought that stem cells migrate to the affected area when injected intravenously, repairing a wide variety of damaged tissues.

A variety of blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, can be treated with cord blood. Cancers of many different varieties can be treated by stem cells. Severe immune system disorders may also be treated with cord blood. The potential for these cells is far-reaching and may include everything from Alzheimer’s to arthritis.

Some disorders are not possible to treat with one's own cord blood but can be treated with donor blood. For instance, leukemia must be treated with donor stem cells because the pre-leukemic cells are part of the cord blood. Any condition that will be replicated by the stem cells cannot be treated with cord blood.

Among the major cord blood uses proposed as of 2010, only a few are treatments are actually performed. When these procedures are performed, they are usually done using a person's own cord blood. Regulations on procedures that may actually be performed using cord blood will change as the science advances.

The child from whom the cord blood is taken is not the only person who may benefit from these stem cells. Siblings and parents may potentially use these cells to combat diseases, although siblings are more likely to be compatible than parents. The opportunity to save cord blood is singular and expires after birth. Cord blood that is not saved is discarded as medical waste and can never be of use. As the potential cord blood uses are numerous and one cannot go back and retrieve the blood, it is a good idea to at least consider banking an infant's cord blood.

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