The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has declared July “Cord Blood Awareness Month” to raise awareness about the benefits of cord blood banking. After a baby is born, stem cells from the umbilical cord blood and tissue can be collected and saved for potential future medical use. This national health observance provides a special opportunity to highlight the significant contributions made through cord blood banking, stem cell research, trials, and treatment.
“Cord blood banking is like an insurance policy for a child,” David Soll, MD gynecology and obstetrics at Banner Health, said. “It stores blood to have available if an individual needs it and is currently being used to treat bloodborne diseases such as Leukemia.”
Umbilical cord tissue is packed with several types of stem cells, including Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) and Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs). MSCs can rapidly divide, regenerate and differentiate into many cell types, including neural cells, bone cells and cartilage. They can also respond to inflammation and aid in tissue repair, which offers a unique advantage when trying to improve certain conditions.
“Cord blood is particularly useful to have available if there’s a future medical breakthrough,” Dr. Soll says. “Currently, there are more than 70 types of diseases hematopoietic stem cells can treat.”
Some people have a strong history of blood disorders, so they are prime candidates for private cord blood banking. For those that don’t, however, it’s harder to anticipate if cord blood banking will be needed.
“It’s easy to collect, so it’s really up to the families [to pursue or not],” Dr. Soll says. “But it’s something to look into.”