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Cord Blood: What You Need to Know

Cord Blood

Umbilical cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a baby has been delivered. In the past, cord blood was frequently discarded. But now, many women choose to delay and/or bank cord blood. It can either be stored for future use or donated to a public cord blood bank.

Cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used at a later date in a stem cell transplant to help someone with blood cancer or some other form of malignancy. Essentially, a stem cell transplant can be used to replenish the sick person’s blood with healthy cells, in many cases saving their life. Most frequently, it’s used in stem cell transplants for sick babies and children. To date, thousands of lives have been saved with donated cord blood that’s been used in stem cell transplants.

What Are Your Options?

Many women choose to donate their cord blood. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that women donate to public cord blood banks in most situations.

Donating is free at participating facilities and it has immense potential to help sick people in the future. Even if you choose to donate, there’s still a chance you can use it in the future should a need arise. Though the chances of it being available decrease over time.

Of course, parents can also choose to store cord blood in a private bank so that it can be saved for their family’s personal use in the future. However, there are a few considerations here. The first consideration is cost, as the charges for collection and private storage of the cord blood can be quite expensive. In addition to the initial fees, you will continue to be charged annually over time. The next factor you’ll want to consider is that there is no guarantee that the cord blood you store privately will be suitable for use in a transplant if the need arises. Lastly, there’s only a slim chance you will ever use the banked blood.

Delayed Clamping

This is when your ObGyn provider doesn’t immediately clamp and cut the umbilical cord. Instead, they allow extra time for the blood in the cord and placenta to flow to the baby. The ACOG recommends delayed clamping for at least 30–60 seconds after birth for all healthy infants.

Benefits for your baby include:

  • In term infants, it increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores in the first several months of life
  • A decreased the risk of anemia
  • Significant neonatal benefits in preterm infants

Delayed cord clamping isn’t recommended for everyone. Women with abnormal placentas, a hemorrhage, or babies who are born needing immediate medical care should avoid delayed cord clamping.

Can I Have Delayed Clamping And Still Bank?

Growing evidence shows it’s possible to delay and bank cord blood. Parents can discuss the pros and cons with their ObGyn physician.

When To Decide

It’s important that a family to decides in advance if they want to save their cord blood. You’ll need to register ahead of time so that the supplies needed for storing cord blood are present at the time of delivery, otherwise, it won’t be an option. Because of this, it’s really important to speak with a physician about cord blood donation or storage well in advance of delivery.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Women’s Health Arizona. As Arizona’s largest ObGyn group, we’re trained and solely dedicated to delivering the best ObGyn experience in convenient and comfortable settings around Phoenix.

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