What Doctors Say about Cord Blood Banking
Women's Health - pregnancy tips and adivice
By R.L. Fielding

Cord blood and placenta-derived stem cells have great potential to expand your family’s treatment options for a variety of serious and often life-threatening diseases. That’s because stem cells from the placenta and cord blood may be successfully used to treat diseases by regenerating healthy blood cells in place of abnormal ones. In fact, stem cell transplants have been used to treat serious diseases in children and adults including various cancers such as acute and chronic leukemia, certain lymphomas, and many other diseases. To date, there are approximately 80 diseases for which stem cell transplants have been used to treat patients.(1)

In light of these promising results, many doctors encourage expectant parents to consider the value of cord blood banking. "Cord blood stem cells are an important lifeline to a healthy future. These cells already treat such life-threatening diseases as leukemia and sickle cell anemia and we have every reason to believe that they will be instrumental in changing medical treatment in the future," explains nationally renowned pediatrician Harvey Karp, MD.(2)

Increasing Availability and Compatibility

Locating a suitable stem cell transplant match from public registries can be difficult and is often time-consuming. In fact, more than 30% of patients requiring transplant are unable to find a suitable match.(3) However, once collected and stored at the time of birth, placental and cord blood stem cells provide your baby with an exact match for a potential stem cell transplant for years to come. "[Banking your placental and cord blood stem cells] is the only way to ensure a perfect match to these stem cells if he/she ever needs them in the future," says Dr. Karp.


The statistical likelihood of finding a suitable donor further decreases for children of ethnic or racial minorities or adopted children. For these families, private cord blood banking, which can only be done at the time of birth, improves the likelihood that a suitable transplant match will be immediately available. Otherwise, without a privately banked unit, a search could take months and still be unsuccessful.

Family members may also benefit from private banking, as there’s a stronger chance of a suitable match for other family members when using your own baby’s stored stem cells versus those from a public registry. According to an April 2005 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the highest probability of transplant success comes from cells that have a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) identical match on all six markers.(4)

The body uses HLA markers to identify which cells belong in the body and which do not, and the highest probability of an HLA match on all six markers is from a related donor. In fact, a study done on the outcomes of cord blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors shows that the transplant success rate from related transplant donors is double that from unrelated donors,(5) and that number increases if the transplant recipient is using his or her own stem cells.

Improving Successful Treatment

Currently, for successful stem cell transplantation, stem cells must survive in the body after effectively engrafting into the bone marrow. There are many medical risks at this stage that reduce the probability of successful engraftment, including graft-versus-host disease and tissue rejection.

Preclinical studies conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a leading cancer research institution, indicate that adding placental stem cells to cord blood stem cells enhances engraftment due to the higher number of CD34+ (blood forming) stem cells available for transplant. The placenta, in fact, is ten times richer in CD34+ stem cells than cord blood. Research has shown that these primitive cells play an important role in the speed and probability of the stem cells engrafting upon transplant. In addition, a 2002 study revealed that CD34+ stem cell dose was the one factor consistently identified as significantly associated with the rate of engraftment, survival, and a decrease in treatment-related mortality. (3)

Using proprietary technology, "LifebankUSATM is the only private stem cell banking company that offers collection of stem cells from both the placenta and the umbilical cord," says Dr. Richard Rothenberg, a board-certified OB/GYN. "This dramatically increases the number of stem cells retrieved." By collecting from both the placenta and the umbilical cord via LifebankUSA’s Placenta-Cord banking service, families can as much as double the total number of CD34+ stem cells banked compared with cord blood banking alone. Should the stem cells be needed, Placenta-Cord banking improves the likelihood of successful engraftment, and with it, the likelihood of restoring the patient’s health.

Banking For Future Therapeutic Potential

The stem cells you store at a cord blood bank today may become even more beneficial in the future. Research is constantly underway to find new medical uses for stem cells, including treating Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, diabetes, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), cardiac repair and spinal cord injuries. In time, through the use of cord blood and placental stem cells, life-saving treatments for these conditions could become a reality.

Whether you choose cord blood banking because of specific health concerns or simply as an extra precaution against the unexpected, should the need ever arise, you’ve taken the steps to provide an extra level of protection for your baby and your family.

The chance that a child will use his/her own stored cord blood stem cells during his/her lifetime is estimated at 1 in 400 (J.J. Nietfeld and F. Verter). These odds may increase if there is a family history of certain blood disorders or cancers. The potential risks and benefits of stem cell transplantation vary and depend on many factors, such as the amount and quality of the cord blood stem cells collected, the HLA compatibility between recipient and donor, and the client’s overall health.

References:
1. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Cord blood stem cell transplantation. Available at: http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/attachments/National/br_1125624081.pdf. Accessed February 16, 2007.
2. Excerpts from Dr. Karp’s nationally best selling book/DVDs "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and "The Happiest Toddler on the Block." His work is endorsed by America´s top baby experts and is now the basis for baby calming classes that are taught to new parents all across the country. He is also a nationally renowned expert on children’s health and the environment and an authority on breast-feeding.
3. Wagner J, Barker J, DeFor T, et al. CD34+ cell dose & HLA disparity. Blood 2000 (5):1611-1618.
4. Meyer EA, Hanna K, Gebbie K, eds. Cord Blood: Establishing a National Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bank Program. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.
5. Gluckman E, Rocha V, Boyer-Chammard A, et al. Outcomes of cord-blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:373-381.

About LifebankUSA
LifebankUSA is one of the largest cord blood banks in the world, and has provided private cord blood banking services for thousands of families worldwide. LifebankUSA is also the world's first bank to offer families the new option to collect and preserve stem cells derived from the placenta as well as the umbilical cord (Placenta-Cord banking) for hematopoietic reconstitution. In addition to being the world's first Placenta-Cord banking company, LifebankUSA is committed to being at the forefront of research and development to help ensure a more promising future for both placental and umbilical cord blood stem cell therapeutics.

LifebankUSA is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), accredited by the AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), certified by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), and holds all necessary state licenses.

This article is copyrighted for and by LifebankUSA. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part and may not be posted on other websites, without the express written permission of the author who may be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it .

About R.L. Fielding
R.L. Fielding has been a freelance writer for 10 years, offering her expertise and skills to a variety of major organizations in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare fields. She lives in New Jersey with her dog and two cats and enjoys rock climbing and ornamental gardening.

 
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