Umbilical cord blood is not blood from the mother, it is blood from the baby therefore it is untainted by many of life's pollutants. Rather, it is full of stem cells, the cells that are the basic building blocks of every part of our body.
Current research has seen stem cells being trialled on individuals with spinal cord damage, various cancers such as childhood leukemia, and the rebuilding or regeneration of our organs. Medical science believes that at some stage in the future they will be able to 'grow' new organs like a liver or heart. The stem cells to used in this research are those taken from a new born baby through umbilical cord - hence the name umbilical cord stem cells.
There are several methods used to collect umbilical cord blood. First, it should be remembered that this is not an invasive process. Once a baby is born, the umbilical cord is removed and along with the placenta, disposed of as hospital waste. Rather than throwing the umbilical cord and the umbilical cord blood out, the umbilical cord blood is removed using a syringe. This blood is then sent away where the stem cells are removed and banked until required - this is where the term stem cell banking comes from.
As a new parent, you can 'donate' your baby's cord blood. The donated cord stem cells are sent to a central cord blood registry. The stem cells are then used where the cord blood registry feels is best suited. The most common use at present is for the treatment of juvenile leukemia where it has a high success rate - your baby's cord blood stem cells may well save another youngsters life.
There is also the option is to have the cord blood stem cells 'banked' for possible future use by your own family, and in particular, your baby. There is nothing purer than the baby's own cord blood stem cells if he or she should become sick. Collection will cost around $2000 with an annual fee of around $100. If your child should ever become sick, this could be small price to pay to save their life.
Science has looked upon stem cells as one of the holly grails of science. The ability to repair spinal problems and restore movement to para/quadriplegics has received a huge push due to recent progress in research. There are more than 70 diseases that can be treated using cord blood stem cells however a lack of available stem cells has hampered research. Only one in fifty parents donate their baby's umbilical cord blood, image if every baby's cord blood was collected?
If you are an expecting parent then you can help increase in the amount of cord blood collected by simply donating your baby's cord blood rather than seeing it thrown out. Ask the hospital or midwife if they collect cord blood. If not, there are many agencies that will collect it, either for for public cord blood banking, or, if you are prepared to pay the price, your own personal cord blood banking. If friends or relatives are pregnant, get them to inquire about the process.
The umbilical cord - who would have thought that cord blood stem cells could do so much?