Storing umbilical cord blood immediately following childbirth is becoming an increasingly popular choice for parents. A common question is why and should prospective parents organize collection and banking in advance.
The reason why storing cord blood is becoming an attractive option lies in the potential benefits of treating a whole host of clinical disorders from the stem cells contained in the blood. The collection of this blood remaining in the placenta and attached umbilical cord following childbirth is relatively straightforward, there is only one chance of collection, and there are few negative or ethical dilemmas.
In the past cord blood has been used to treat and cure blood cancers and some genetic based disorders. An obvious extension for Physicians involved in cell therapies and regenerative medicine is the possibility that these stem cells might in the future be used for the child later in life in the treatment of type1 diabetes. This possibility has already been the subject of experimental clinical trials and work is ongoing in this area.
Stem cells derived from cord blood banks may benefit that child itself later in life but there can also be a wider application in helping unrelated disease sufferers. This is an emerging branch of medicine requiring investment and infrastructure. There are currently moves to make cord blood banks more available in the public domain rather than just for personal and private storage. This will require a big shift in attitude by the general public and health care providers towards an acceptance of the emerging field of regenerative medicine and cell based therapies. Anyone could potentially benefit so why not invest in the priceless possibility offered by the stem cells in cord blood. We do not know now if they will be needed but the field is moving so fast we should anticipate some very significant advances in the near future.