4 Reasons Why Pediatricians Recommend Public Cord Banking
Doc Smitty explains new AAP guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement encouraging parents to donate to public cord blood banks following the birth of their children.
Cord blood banking has grown increasingly popular among parents over the past decade. It involves collecting blood left in the baby’s umbilical cord and storing it for possible later use. The number of conditions for which stored cord blood continues to increase as further research is conducted.
According to the new, October 2017 policy statement on cord blood banking from the AAP, there are 800,000 cord blood units stored in public cord blood banks and 5,000,000 in private cord banks. As of 2013, there have been 30,000 stem cells transplants from donated cord blood used to treat cancers, hemoglobin disorders (like sickle cell disease) and severe disorders of the immune system.
Fortunately, the process for collecting stem cells is easy. After every baby’s birth, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. For cord banking, a medical provider will then draw blood from the placental side of the umbilical cord (no needles anywhere near the baby). The blood is then shipped to a center where it is prepared and frozen for long term storage.
So, now for the $10 million question: Which is better, public or private cord banking?
First of all, it should be said that the science behind this is changing and changing quickly. It’s impossible to say what the science will be in 5, 10, 50 years. But, based on current knowledge, the American Academy of Pediatrics position reflected in their statement is that parents should opt for public cord banking.
Here are 4 reasons why public cord banking is preferable:
1. Oversight - Public cord banks are regulated in a much stricter way than private banks. Strict guidelines for collection, preparation and storage are important to maintaining cells in a usable state.
2. Usability - There are 30 times more cord blood cells used for clinical purposes from public banks than from private. Except for specific family diseases for which cord blood banking might be useful, it is much more likely that publicly banked cells will be used. Often the condition itself prevents usage of the cells inside the family. For instance, children with leukemia cannot receive their own banked cells because they already contain pre-malignant cells.
3. Cost - Donating cells to public banks is free. Private storage generally stars with a $1000-2000 placement fee along with yearly storage costs.
4. Benefit for others - Donating cells for use by others can have a huge benefit for society. Children who need stem cells for various conditions may begin to rely upon banked cord blood for those cells. Children of ethnic minorities especially need more possible donors for stem cells, including banked cord blood.
So, should you save cord blood?
Yes. But, for now, public banking appears to be the way to go.
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.