You're sitting in the waiting room when you spot a glossy brochure about cord blood banking. Maybe you've heard of cord blood banking, but don't really know much about it. Or perhaps cord blood banking is a completely alien term.
Cord blood banking is the process of removing blood from the umbilical cord and placenta after the baby is born, blood that would otherwise be thrown away. That blood is then stored, frozen, for future use, either by the individual (autologous) or someone else (allogeneic).
Cord blood contains millions of stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells that are increasingly being studied and used for various kinds of medical procedures, including treatment of more than 70 diseases (including Hodgkin's disease, Tay Sachs, and some forms of lymphoma and leukemia).
Here, we've talked to the experts to get the various sides of the cord blood banking debate so that you can make the best choice for your family.
The Private Banking Debate
Chances are, that pretty brochure was put out by a commercial (for profit) cord blood banking registry. Some of the big ones are Cord Blood Registry, Viacord, and New England Cord Blood Bank. Others can be evaluated and accessed through the Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.
Private cord blood banks charge an upfront processing fee to obtain, ship, and freeze the cord blood (starting around $1,000), and then an annual fee per year (about $100+ per year).