Bone marrow, peripheral blood, and the umbilical cord blood constitute the three primary sources of stem cells. Umbilical cord blood, which until fairly recently, was discarded as medical waste, is a non-controversial and rich source of stem cells that are now being saved for future medical use.
So why are cord blood stem cells best? The purity of a stem cell directly correlates to its age. Purity correlates to the stem cells’ ability to generate into any tissue type-making it versatile in use. As cells get older, like humans, they get more set in their ways and are less able to change/adapt into any tissue type, thereby making them less potent and useful for transplant.
Using the Body’s Master Cells Today and Tomorrow
Research is showing that cord blood stem cells have the potential for acting as a super repair kit for the body-generating healthy tissues to grow replacement organs. Today, cord blood stem cells are used to treat over 70 diseases, including sickle cell disease, Thalassemia and several forms of cancer. There are also emerging stem cell applications using autologous (one’s own) cord blood stem cells, some including the 2008 report showing the improvement of symptoms of patients afflicted with brain injuries, Cerebral Palsy, Type 1 Diabetes, and even heart disease.
With over 10,000 documented life-saving transplants to date using stem cells today, and nearly 3,000 clinical trials to find treatments for hearing loss, male patterned baldness Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS, Autism, spinal cord injuries and more, the future looks even brighter.
Another benefit of banking your child’s cord blood is the potential for those stem cells to be used by immediate family members. The success of cord blood transplantation depends on the tissue compatibility (human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matching) between the donor and the transplant recipient. Having a matched sample is important-the closer the match, the greater the chance for engraftment (i.e. transplant success)
If your body receives a transplant of a mismatched sample of stem cells, a couple of things can happen. Your body can reject the transplant, or can develop a complication called "graft vs. host disease". This disease can be very serious impeding your recovery or even resulting in death. As a result, a key factor for any successful stem cell transplant is the match 100 percent being the best possible advantage. When you store your child’s umbilical cord blood stem cells-these cells represent a 100 percent match to your child, and more closely with their immediate sibling.
So Who Should Consider Saving Their Baby’s Cord Blood?
1. Families with a higher predisposition to certain diseases, i.e. blood disorders, immunodeficiency diseases, cancers etc.
2. Couples whom suffer from infertility, as the chance of conceiving again is unknown, there is less of a chance a future sibling’s cord blood stem cells could be used in the event that a transplant is needed.
3. Those adopting an unborn child because the contact with the child’s birth parents will be lost, it’s a good idea to save the cord blood of the adoptive child with a family cord blood bank.
4. Children with a mixes ethnic background have a lower chance of finding a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched sample.
5. Minor ethnic groups. It may be very difficult to find an HLA matched sample among minor ethnic groups due to their low population and the low number of publically banked samples.
6. Parents whom want to provide their child with biological insurance, should a cord blood transplant be needed in the future.