Keeping your baby’s cord blood in a family cord blood bank ensures your children’s ready access to their own stem cells.
Storing cord blood can be a life- saving investment, with statistics showing that one in every 217 persons (1) may need a stem cell treatment in their lifetime. Stem cell transplants can be used to treat over 85 types of diseases (2), which include leukaemia, lymphoma, thalassemia, as well as certain metabolic and immunological disorders. Ongoing clinical trials are also underway to use cord blood to treat autism, Type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury and many more (3).
Cord blood is rich in Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) which play an important role in replenishing blood and regenerating the immune system. However, the odds of ﬁnding a match for a transplant within the same racial group is around 1 in 20,000 (4). This is why storing your baby’s cord blood can be beneﬁcial. Should the need for a stem cell transplant arise, your child will have ready access to his or her own stem cells, which are a 100 per cent genetic match, thus eliminating the risk of post-transplant rejection.
Keeping cord blood can also help to save more than one life. Compared to other sources of stem cells like bone marrow, cord blood stem cells are younger and more primitive. This means they are able to regenerate healthy cells at a faster rate, and pose a lower risk of rejection when transplanted to a matched family member. Cord blood stem cells are also easier to collect, and the process is pain- and risk-free to both mother and child.
According to a study, transplants using cord blood from a matched family member increases the survival rate by up to 87 percent (5), as compared to a non-related donor.
What to look out for in a family cord blood bank
Facilities which offer the optimum environment to preserve cord blood stem cells have become more common today, as stem cells have grown to be an increasingly essential procedure in treating major illnesses.
Besides pricing, you will also need to factor in the family cord blood bank’s accreditations, the condition of their facilities, and the processing methods of your child’s cord blood to ensure its usability in the future.
Look for a family cord blood bank that has obtained international accreditations from organisations such as the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) and Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
Certiﬁcations from such organisations are testament to the quality standards of the family cord blood bank’s laboratory which processes the cord blood, as well as the facility that stores it.
Ensure that the family cord blood bank’s laboratory and biosafety cabinets are not outsourced to a third party. Such in-house facilities allow for more stringent quality control and allows for immediate access to resources in the event of an emergency.
The method in which the cord blood units are processed will determine the cell recovery rate and viability of your child’s cord blood stem cells. The entire process should be automated in order to prevent any risk of contamination or human error. Every step in the processing of your child’s cord blood counts towards its viability.
Setting aside a portion of your budget to store your baby’s cord blood is a smart investment, but it will be futile if you pick the wrong family cord blood bank. So, be diligent in your research and safeguard your child’s future with a trusted partner.
For more information on cord blood banking, contact Cordlife Singapore at 6238-0808, or visit http://www.cordlife.com/sg.
(1) Nietfeld JJ, Pasquini MC, Logan BR, et al. Lifetime probabilities of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the U.S. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. 2008; 14:316-322.
(2) Diseases Treated page. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation website. https://www.parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases. Accessed Nov 30, 2017.
(3) Diseases and Disorders that have been in Clinical Trials with Cord Blood or Cord Tissue Cells. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation website. https://www.parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases#trial. Accessed June 13, 2016.
(4) Chew J. Criterion for new stem-cell transplant 50% match. The Straits Times. July 18, 2013: 12-15.
(5) Bizzetto R, Bonfim C, Rocha V, et al. Outcomes after related and unrelated umbilical cord blood transplantation for hereditary bone marrow failure syndromes other than Fanconi anemia. Haematologica. 2010; 96(1):134-141.