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What is Cord Blood Banking?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cord blood is the stem-cell rich blood contained in the umbilical cord following the birth of a baby. Cord blood banking allows this blood to be stored as a source of stem cells that may be used to treat diseases in the family in the future. A person must enroll in cord blood banking well before the birth of the baby so that the banking institute can send all necessary items for the collection and transportation of the collected blood.

During pregnancy, the umbilical cord provides a growing fetus with nutrient-rich blood that helps in development. After birth, the cord is clamped and then cut off to be discarded, being no longer necessary. Cord blood banking can instead preserve the umbilical cord and extract the extremely potent stem cells that fill the cord. These stem cells may be used in the treatment of more than 80 diseases, and since they are genetically identical to the cells in the baby, can be the best source of blood transfusions or transplants later in life. In addition to benefiting the baby, the cord blood can sometimes also be used for treating diseases in family members with matching genetics.

Cord blood banking may be handled through either public or private organizations. A private cord blood bank reserves the banked cells for the donating family only. A public cord blood blank adds donated cells to a general use pool that can be given to other people. Public cord blood banking may actually be more beneficial in some cases; if, for instance, a genetic condition has caused the need for stem cell transfusion, the same genetic condition may be present in a family's privately banked blood, making it useless in treatment.

Cord blood is collected just after birth, when the doctor or attending nurse has clamped off the umbilical cord. Using a prepared kit, a needle is inserted into the cord that drains the blood into a special collection bag. The bag is then sealed, tagged, and sent to the bank for processing and storage. Processing involves removing plasma from the blood, and preserving the remaining substance in sub-zero temperatures until needed.

There are many uses for cord blood, including the treatment of diseases such as leukemia. It is often used to replace bone marrow after destruction by chemotherapy. According to some studies, transplants performed with a family-match cord blood transfusion may have higher rates of success. It is important to understand that stem cell therapy remains in the early stages of development; many ongoing studies are returning results that suggest far broader possibilities for treatment using this type of stem cell source.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis


With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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