The risk of your child developing a condition or illness that may make life uncomfortable for them is something parents can’t bear to think about. What if you could do something at birth that will give them a better chance of treatment in future? This is where cord blood collection, to allow parents to store their baby’s stem cells, is key.
These tiny cells might have once seemed insignificant, but their potential in the body is still only just being realised. Known as the repair and maintenance centre of the body, stem cells are used to rebuild cell tissue that is damaged and causing adverse symptoms. Research has shown that they can develop into a huge variety of cell types including nerves, skin, heart and liver cells, just to name a few. Currently the stem cells found in the rich source that is cord blood are used in the treatment of symptoms of conditions like cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, leukaemia, thalassemia and more. There are more than 50,000 stem cells transplants taking place each year, treating more than 80 diseases, with around 4000 of these from cord blood alone. Stem cells found in cord blood aren’t only useful the baby themselves; there have been many successful transplants of stem cells from a sibling. Private cord blood stem cell storage company Smart Cells has released more than 20 of their own samples for transplant since 2005, many of which going towards innovative new treatments. There are exciting medical breakthroughs happening all the time with stem cells, including early clinical treatment of some neurological conditions and ischaemic heart disease. Research is ongoing and we expect to see huge developments in the future for stem cells.
How is umbilical cord blood collected?
Knowledge around cord blood collection at birth is, sadly, quite lacking; it’s not an option that’s often made known to expectant parents while they’re pregnant and they often only find out about it afterwards. The process is, in fact, very simple. The worry that many parents have is that it might be distressing to the mother or infant, however in reality, it’s completely pain-free. After the delivery of the both the baby and the placenta, the phlebotomist will extract the blood that’s rich in stem cells from the umbilical cord using a needle. The procedure is quick and does not affect the precious time between the new parents and baby after birth.
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