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What is Cord Blood Collection?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cord blood collection refers to the extraction of blood from an infant’s umbilical cord shortly after birth. This blood contains stem cells and other important substances which can be used to treat a wide range of diseases. Families can choose to have the blood drawn for themselves or they may choose to have it taken to a public bank where it can be used by anyone. Saving an infant’s cord blood provides the child with a perfect biological match if a stem cell transplant or another procedure is ever needed. It also offers a very good chance of matching blood for the baby's siblings and parents.

The idea of cord blood collection being used to save a child’s life sounds good in theory. Studies have shown that using cells from cord blood can help treat or cure a variety of diseases and disorders. That said, evidence is lacking on how likely it is that a child will need his or her own blood at some point. Statistics vary widely on this matter, and many organizations do not advocate the private banking of cord blood.

In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that it discourages parents from paying to have their child’s cord blood stored privately. The organization found that there was not sufficient evidence to suggest that the reward was greater than the financial loss, believing that it is highly unlikely a child will require his or her own blood at a later time. This organization does, however, advocate public cord blood donation.

The main drawback to cord blood collection and storage with a private organization is the high price. Many parents simply do not have the initial fees needed to have their child’s blood properly extracted and stored with a banking company. It is also generally considered more likely that a child will benefit from the blood of a sibling or parent than his or her own blood, so those who give birth and have an older child who is already suffering from an illness may get free banking.

Another cord blood collection option is to donate the blood to a public banking facility. This happens in much the same way, but at no cost to the parents. The blood is extracted from the cord and stored for public use. This means that anyone who needs treatment using cord blood can benefit from these donations. If the child himself becomes ill and his blood is still available, he may still receive his own cells.

The cost of private cord blood collection varies based on the company. It generally requires an initial fee followed by yearly payments to keep the blood stored. Every parent will need to decide for his or herself if the monetary payout is worth the potential return. There is always a chance the blood will be needed, but this may be rarer than many cord blood banking companies lead parents to believe.

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