July is Cord Blood Awareness Month! Cord Blood Awareness Month is celebrated in July each year and aims to raise awareness about the importance of saving umbilical cord blood and the amazing regenerative potential it has.
To help raise awareness, I’ve teamed up with the UK’s leading cord blood bank, Cells4Life, to provide you with 5 things you should know about cord blood
1) What is umbilical cord blood and why is it so valuable?
Umbilical cord blood is the residual blood that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after baby is born. In the past, the umbilical cord and its blood were discarded with the placenta as medical waste. However, research over the last few decades has shown that cord blood contains billions of powerful stem cells that have life-saving potential.
Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are similar to stem cells found within bone marrow, but they are unique. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are able to transform into almost any cell type within the human body and self-renew indefinitely. This means that if any cells have been damaged in the body by a disease or condition, cord blood stem cells can be used to target the specific areas and repair, renew or regrow damaged cells.
Because of this, stem cells are already used to treat an array of different conditions – over 80 different conditions in fact! As the years go by, scientists and doctors are continuing to discover even more diseases and conditions that can be treated with umbilical cord blood stem cells.
2) How could my baby’s umbilical cord blood help them now and in the future?
Cord blood is already being used to treat a range of immune disorders, such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), as well as blood cancers, including leukaemia and lymphoma.
These stem cells are even being used to treat severely critical cases of COVID-19 in various clinical trials! Early data from these studies have shown promising results in alleviating the symptoms suffered from coronavirus.
Researchers are currently undertaking more than 7,600 clinical trials to investigate the use of stem cells for hundreds of other conditions, which have been incurable to this day. These stem cells are central to finding new ways to treat conditions that may affect us later on in life, such as arthritis, stroke and cardiovascular conditions.
3) How can I save my baby’s umbilical cord blood?
You only have one chance to save your baby’s umbilical cord blood – and that’s straight after baby’s arrival. With cord blood banking, you can secure this powerful source of stem cells within minutes of giving birth. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and storing blood from the umbilical cord for future use in stem cell therapies. The process of cord blood banking has become increasingly popular in the past decade. Between 2014 and 2018 there was an incredible 60% increase in parents choosing to store their baby’s cord blood in a private bank.
The procedure itself is completely safe and non-invasive and has no impact on your birth plan. The collection takes place in a separate room after the third stage of labour so you won’t even notice it’s happening – meaning you can soak up the first few precious moments with your baby.
Once collected – your baby’s health is protected for the rest of its life.
4) Should I store the umbilical cord blood for all of my children?
The great thing about storing your baby’s cord blood is that their sample may be a match for their siblings! Your baby’s cord blood stem cells have a 1 in 4 chance of being an exact match for their siblings and a 3 in 4 chance of being a usable match.
However, to guarantee the perfect stem cell match for all of your children (https://cells4life.com/stem-cell-storage-faqs/), you should bank each of their stem cells at birth. By storing each of your children’s cord blood, you ensure that they will always have access to their perfect stem cell match.
5) Why cord blood banking?
The motivation behind choosing to privately bank cord blood varies from parent to parent but often includes…
- Possible future advancements in medical science – some parents are scientifically or medically motivated and are aware of the stem cell therapies that are being developed or used worldwide.
- Safeguarding baby’s future – most parents generally do not expect their baby’s cord blood to be used to treat childhood illnesses, as these are quite rare. Rather, they hope stem cell therapies will be able to help their child once they begin to suffer from age-related diseases much later in life.
- Specific conditions – many parents store with specific conditions in mind. Some parents already have a child suffering from an illness and would like to use their other child’s cord blood to treat them. Other parents may have a family history of a condition that can already – or has the potential to – be treated with cord blood This is usually the case for those choosing to store cells for the treatment of blood disorders.
For most, umbilical cord blood banking is regarded as a form of biological insurance, either with a target condition in mind or as potential security against various age-related diseases that can either be treated today using stem cells, such as arthritis or stroke, or that may be treatable in the future.
As part of Cord Blood Awareness Month, Cells4Life will be sharing informative blogs on their website and facts on their social media channels about the amazing regenerative potential of cord blood. Make sure to check it out and share it with your friends! You can also download your free information guide about cord blood banking here.