As more and more parents discover the healing properties of cord blood, delayed cord clamping and placenta encapsulation have become hot topics, sometimes eclipsing the important message that cord blood stem cells save lives.
Cord blood is non-embryonic so its use is not controversial – in fact, it is thrown away as clinical waste unless parents arrange to have their child’s cord blood collected. Birth is the only opportunity to collect these cells.
Cord blood transplantation is now a frontline treatment for diseases of the blood and immune systems, such as leukaemia, lymphoma and neuroblastoma. Cord blood stem cells can cure inherited blood disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia and the list of treatable conditions is growing steadily as clinical trials continue.
Cord blood is collected after the baby is born and it in no way interferes with the natural birthing process. Bone marrow transplantation, by comparison, can be a painful and upsetting experience.
Cord blood is rich in nutrients as well as stem cells and there is evidence that delaying clamping by 30-60 seconds is beneficial to your baby. This leaves enough blood in the cord and placenta to collect a sample for storage.
In studies comparing cord blood and bone marrow transplantation, cord blood stem cells are accepted more readily by the patient and recovery times are reduced.
Because cord blood stem cells are so young, they retain a potency and pliability that is superior to adult stem cells. Research shows that whereas bone marrow transplantation requires a perfect match, cord blood transplants can be successful with a partial match.
The first successful cord blood transplantation was in 1988 when 5-year-old Matt Farrow was treated for Fanconi’s anaemia using his sister’s cord blood stem cells. He is now married with a son of his own.
4 Million cord blood samples are held in storage in 500 cord blood banks across the world and these are increasing by 250,000 a year
Over the past decade, clinical trials have been developing cord blood therapies for conditions that affect brain development in early childhood, such as cerebral palsy and autism. Stem cells from cord tissue are also being explored for their ability to regenerate and repair tissues such as bone and muscle. It is hoped that these will be used for life-enhancing treatments for patients suffering from acute trauma and conditions such as osteoporosis.
Biovault Family offers cord blood and tissue collection, processing and 25 years’ storage for £2,350. That’s £94 a year to help protect your family against cancer, for less than the cost of your car insurance.
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