Fact or Fiction: 5 Myths about Cord Blood
Choosing to save your baby’s cord blood stem cells can be a life-saving decision. When making this decision, you want to be sure you have accurate information about the process and possibilities of cord blood banking. Here, we set the record straight on some common myths and misconceptions about cord blood banking.
Myth #1: Treating diseases with cord blood is still in the experimental stages.
Fact: The first cord blood transplant was performed in 1988 on a patient diagnosed with the rare blood disorder Fanconi anemia. Since then, almost 6 million units of cord blood have been stored for transplantation worldwide.1 Cord blood stem cells are currently used in the treatment of nearly 80 different diseases, including cancers and genetic disorders. Over the past 30 years, more than 35,000 cord blood stem cell transplants have been performed around the world.1 Cord blood stem cells are also being studied for potential use in treating a variety of diseases that currently have no cure, such as cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism and type 1 diabetes. 2,3,4,5 Lifebank is proud to be part of this lifesaving effort.
Myth #2: Collecting cord blood can affect delivery and takes blood away from our baby.
Fact: Cord blood collection is painless, easy and safe for both the mother and the baby. Deciding to bank your baby’s cord blood should not change the normal birthing process, whether you have a vaginal delivery or a C-section. Cord blood is collected after the baby is born and the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. The cord blood that is collected is blood that would normally be discarded after birth, so collection doesn’t affect your baby’s blood supply during pregnancy or delivery.
Myth #3: If our child gets sick, it’s unlikely they would be able to use their own cord blood.
Fact: A recent study found that more than 60,000 stem cell transplants using a person’s own cells – known as autologous stem cell transplants – have been performed in the U.S. alone.6 Autologous stem cell transplants can be used to treat certain non-genetic diseases and cancers without the risk of rejection. In addition, a person can use his or her own banked cord blood cells to help reconstitute their bone marrow after chemotherapy treatment for non-blood cancers.
Myth #4: If we donate our baby’s cord blood to a public bank, we can access it if he needs it in the future.
Fact: You may have heard that donating to a public cord blood bank means that you’ll be able to get your own child’s blood back one day. The reality is if you agree to donate cord blood, you cannot be certain that you will have access to it if you need it in the future. There are two main reasons why this is the case:
- Only a small percentage of donated cord blood samples meet the requirements for screening and storage in a public bank. Public banks only store samples that contain enough stem cells to transplant a large child or small adult, so an estimated 80% of donations don’t end up being stored.7 The cord blood samples that don’t meet public banking requirements aren’t necessarily discarded, however, as they may be used for research purposes.
- If your cord blood sample meets the requirements and is stored at a public bank, it is put on a public registry. This means it could be released to someone else that is in current need of a stem cell transplant and would not be available to you if needed in the future.
Myth #5: All cord blood banks are the same.
Fact: If you’re thinking about banking cord blood, do your homework! Private cord blood banks may vary in terms of quality, experience and even the technology they use to collect, process and store samples. While most cord blood banks collect and store blood from the umbilical cord, only a handful – like Lifebank – offer placenta blood banking. Banking stems cells from both the umbilical cord and the placenta increases the number of stem cells available for future treatment.8
As you do your research, also keep an eye out for reputation so you can have peace of mind that the cord blood bank will still be around if you need it. We at Lifebank are excited about the future of stem cell research and the amazing possibilities that lie ahead.
- Cord Blood Association. Cord Blood Editorial Background and Fact Sheet (Jan. 2021). Available at https://cord.memberclicks.net/assets/docs/Fact_Sheet_Jan_21.pdf. Accessed on March 9, 2021.
- [Cerebral Palsy] National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier NCT01147653. Available at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT1147653. Accessed March 9, 2021.
- Ende N et al. Human umbilical cord blood cells ameliorate Alzheimer’s disease in transgenic mice. J Med. 2001;32(3):241-7.
- Harris DT et al. The potential of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative medicine. Expert Opin Bio Ther .2007;7(9):1311-1322.
- [Type 1 Diabetes] National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier NCT00305344. Available at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00305344. Accessed March 9, 2021.
- Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. Transplant Activity Report Covering 2013-2017. Available at https://bloodstemcell.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bloodstemcell/data/transplant-activity/transplants-donor-type.pdf. Accessed March 9, 2021.
- Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Frequently Asked Questions: What fraction of cord blood donations get accepted? Available at https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/faqs#q-18063 Accessed March 9, 2021.
- Data on file A, LifebankUSA; 2010.