What Is Cord Blood Banking?

The Foundation of Stem Cell Banking

A proven history of life-saving treatments.

Cord blood banking is a service that allows you to collect and preserve your newborn baby's cord blood stem cells. Umbilical cord blood contains powerful stem cells that can be used for many potentially life-saving medical treatments for your baby and his or her siblings.

Saving the umbilical cord blood stem cells with LifebankUSA offers the following advantages:

What Is Cord Blood?

At one time discarded as medical waste, blood from your baby’s umbilical cord is now recognized as a potentially life-saving source of stem cells. The uses for umbilical cord blood and the value of storing umbilical cord blood are all about the life-saving potential of stem cells. Blood in the umbilical cord is rich in stem cells,1 which are considered the “master cells” of the body because they can:

  • Develop into many different types of cells that make up our blood, tissue, organs, and immune system2
  • Act as an internal repair system by dividing over and over again to replenish other cells as they die or are damaged2

Umbilical cord banking allows you to collect and save your baby’s cord blood for potential later use in medical therapies, including stem cell transplants and clinical trials of new, exciting stem cell therapies.

How Are Cord Blood Stem Cells Different?

Cord blood stem cells are similar to those found in adult bone marrow. Cord blood and bone marrow contain hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which have the unique ability to develop into any of the blood cells in our bodies.3 Because of this flexibility, they can be used to replace diseased blood cells in people with conditions such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, among others.

Stem cells found in your baby’s umbilical cord are less likely than other stem cells, including those from bone marrow, to lead to complications following transplant.3,5 Two of the most frequent complications of stem cell transplantation are transplant rejection and graft versus host disease, or GvHD.3,5 GvHD develops when blood cells from the donor’s stem cells attack the recipient’s cells and tissue.

A unique feature of umbilical cord blood stem cells is that they can be transplanted in cases where the donor and the recipient are only partially matched.3 In contrast, bone marrow grafts require perfect matching in most cases. The ability to use partially matched cord blood for transplants increases a patient’s chances of being matched with a suitable donor.

How Is Umbilical Cord Banking Used Today?

Umbilical cord stem cell transplants

Transplants using stored umbilical cord blood are a standard of care for many life-threatening diseases, and are being studied as potential treatments for many more.

The first successful transplant using umbilical cord stem cells was performed in 1988 on a 5-year-old boy with Fanconi anemia,4 a rare and serious blood disorder. Since then, up to 80 different diseases have been treated with cord blood transplants.*,4 At LifebankUSA, we released our first unit of cord blood stem cells in 2003 to treat a 6-month-old baby with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. To date, stem cells collected at LifebankUSA have been used to treat the most common childhood leukemias, sickle cell anemia, inherited immune deficiencies, and more. As researchers continue to learn more about the potential of stem cells, the uses of your baby’s umbilical cord blood are only expected to grow.

Clinical trials using umbilical cord stem cells

Clinical trials are underway to study the potential of cord blood stem cells in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, commonly referred to as autism. Autism is a complex developmental brain disorder that causes varying degrees of communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors.6 It’s estimated that 1 in 68 children fall somewhere along the autism spectrum.

One trial showed that cord blood infusion was safe in children aged 2 to 7 with autism.7 Another trial is now investigating whether or not such an infusion can benefit these children, such as by improving communication skills or reducing the inflammation associated with the disorder.8 Learn more about this trial and the requirements for participation.

Cord blood stem cells are also being researched for their potential to treat cerebral palsy. A trial studied the benefits of children using their own umbilical cord blood for the treatment of spastic cerebral palsy.9 This research found that when children were given an adequate dose of their own cord blood stem cells, there were significant improvements in measures of neurodevelopmental function, such as gross motor functioning.10 Another ongoing study is now looking at the safety of using stem cells from the cord blood of a sibling for the treatment of cerebral palsy.11

If you are an expecting parent or a parent with a child that has been diagnosed with autism or cerebral palsy, LifebankUSA Medical Affairs can provide additional information regarding ongoing and planned clinical trials that may benefit you.

Contact us for more information: medicalaffairs@lifebankusa.com

Should I consider more than umbilical cord banking?

Umbilical cord banking isn’t the whole story. After your baby is delivered, stem cells can be collected from not only the umbilical cord, but also the placenta. Banking blood from both the placenta and umbilical cord is your best opportunity to maximize the number of stem cells collected. And many studies have shown that using a higher number of stem cells may help improve survival in transplant patients.12,13,14

Discover the power of adding placental blood stem cells to your cord blood collection and how they’re part of a growing area of stem cell research that promises to lead to groundbreaking new therapies in the future.

“Thanks to LifebankUSA, we became knowledgeable and confident that we were doing the right thing [for] our daughter’s healthy future.”
– Peg B., LifebankUSA client, Texas

*For some diseases and genetic conditions, children will not be able to use their own stem cells and would require a stem cell transplant from a sibling or unrelated donor.