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Health & Pregnancy

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Cord Blood Banking: Deciding About Public or Private Donations

What You Should Know About Private Cord Blood Banking continued...

Because of these limitations and the uncommon occurrence of the diseases treatable with stem cell transplant, there have been just more than 400 autologous cord blood transplants in United States in the last two decades. In contrast, more than 60,000 unrelated donor cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.

In short, the AAP and the AMA recommend against storing cord blood as a form of "biological insurance," because the benefits are too remote to justify the costs.

Are there situations where private cord blood banking might make sense? Some parents choose to bank their child's blood if they don't know his or her medical background -- for instance, if a parent was adopted or the child was conceived with a sperm or egg donor.

The AAP does recommend cord blood banking if an infant has a full sibling with a malignant or genetic condition treatable with cord blood transplantation. These conditions include :

Even so, a brother or a sister has only a 25% chance of being a perfect genetic match. Thus, a sibling may require a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from a unrelated donor.

The AMA also suggests considering private cord blood banking if there is a family history of malignant or genetic conditions that might benefit from cord blood stem cells. Keep in mind, however, that to find a suitable match for any type of transplant, 70% must look outside their family.

What the Future Holds

No one knows how stem cells will be used in the future, but researchers hope that they may be used to treat many conditions, like Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart failure, spinal cord damage, and other conditions.

It's possible that storing your child's cord blood cells now may be useful one day in combating these diseases. For now, these treatments are only theoretical. It's also not clear if stem cells from cord blood -- as opposed to stem cells from other sources -- will be useful in these potential treatments.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on September 16, 2014
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