by Emily Harrington
When you visit Motherhood Maternity at the local mall, you are given a handful of advertisements and coupons with each purchase. I typically rifle through them picking out the valuable—20 percent off any purchase at Buy Buy Baby—and shred the ones that will go unclaimed—“free” car seat canopy cover after you pay $20 in shipping and handling (in super fine print). I was duped by that one.
Each time, hidden among the ads and coupons, you are given a pamphlet explaining and encouraging Cord Blood Banking (CBB). I had never heard about the concept until I listened to a podcast about a year ago—now I hear about it all the time. There are advertisements on every baby app and in every parenting and baby magazine.
Often moms and moms-to-be discuss who to have in the delivery room, who their OB/GYN will be and whether or not they will opt for an epidural during delivery. But, the subject of CBB seems to be a quiet one, not often debated amongst moms. Maybe that’s because it is a relatively new science? Maybe that’s because of the ethical or political questions that the use of stem cells evokes? I’m curious about the subject and wanted to open up the conversation amongst moms and moms-to-be.
What’s cord blood banking?
Cord blood banking starts with the medical professional collecting blood from the fetal end of the baby’s umbilical cord within 10 minutes of a woman giving birth. This blood is then sent away and stored at a public or private cord blood bank for future use (if needed). Public banks accept donations to be used for anyone in need, much like donating blood. Private cord banks hold samples only to be used by the donor baby or by a relative who is a match, most often a sibling.
What’s the point?
Viacord.com explains that the baby’s cord blood holds stem cells—the building blocks of our blood and immune systems. Cord blood stem cells, like bone marrow stem cells, can be used to treat blood and immune system related genetic diseases, cancers and blood disorders.
I researched the cost of banking cord blood at some of the more aggressively advertising companies I’ve seen. These private companies averaged about $2,000 for the one-time setup fee, then each month you pay a storage fee of around $100.
I called my OB/GYN to ask about the possibilities of the cord blood collection happening at our local hospital. It turns out our doctor does in fact harvest the cord blood, if requested by the donor parents, but it is not stored at the hospital, hence the need for a private cord blood bank. Our doctor has never done it to date, though, and was unsure of the cost implications.
Has anyone heard of local private or public cord blood banks? In my research I couldn’t find any in the area. Also, no health care professionals I’ve seen during my 24 weeks have broached the subject of CBB with us. This makes me think it’s very uncommon or unnecessary?
Emily Harrington is a 29-year-old townie on the cusp of full-blown adulthood. She’s a wife still in the honeymoon stage and a mom of a borderline psychotic mini-Australian Shepherd. She has a full-time job in communications/marketing and a full-time life outside of work.