Most of us may be aware of the importance of stem cells in treating many diseases, such as cancer, blood disorders, immune system disorders, genetic diseases and metabolic diseases. For many patients suffering from these diseases, stem cells are their source of hope. In case you didn’t know, the umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. The blood that remains in the umbilical cord after delivery or childbirth is rich in newborn stem cells and even the tissue of the cord and placenta are also sources of stem cells. This is something new parents may find worth knowing.

Easy and Painless Extraction

There are several ways of extracting stem cells, which include bone marrow, adipose tissue and blood. Extraction of stem sources can be invasive and painful. Umbilical cord blood is easy to obtain and relatively painless. Usually, the umbilical cord and placenta are discarded after birth. If a mother or the parents decide to have the cord blood collected, the hospital health care team will do the collection right after the baby is born. Using a sterile needle, blood is drawn from the umbilical cord vessels and stored in a collection bag. The blood is then packaged and sent to a cord blood bank for long-term storage.

Cord Blood Storage Choices

Public Banks

You can have your cord blood donated to a public bank for public use or for research. If you choose to donate to a public bank, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to use the cord blood for future private use. If your family doesn’t have a history of significant genetic diseases or immune system diseases, you can make a great contribution to medicine and to society by helping stem cell research progress further to help treat many diseases.

Private Banks

These banks store cord blood for personal use by the family. You have to remember that private cord blood banking is not always cheap. You have to set aside money to store your cord blood for future use. The benefits however, can be great as your child can avail of cord blood for future treatments even up to their adulthood. The whole family can also benefit in the event of diseases and disorders developed over time.

Boundless Potentials of Cord Blood

Not only is the abundant stem cells from umbilical cord blood great for treating diseases, it also is great for post-operative recovery and faster recovery and better post-transplant adjustment rate. Also, medical research has found great potential for regrowing teeth, restoring vision and hearing and cartilage and bone repair. Stem cells have very high regenerative potential, making them great for tissue regeneration and they also lessen the potential for transplant rejection due to their ability to bypass the body’s immune response. The studies and research conducted are ever expansive and they are reaching to neurologic disorder treatments for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy and stroke. Auto-immune disorders that can’t be treated with medicines can benefit from stem cell research. Such disorders like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Eczema and Crohn’s disease are undergoing comprehensive clinical trials to prove the efficacy of stem cell treatment on these and other auto-immune disorders.

There are many potential uses of the umbilical cord after birth. Gone were the days when the umbilical cord and placenta are discarded as these tissues are rich in stem cells. Parents can discuss and decide on the best way to make use of the umbilical cord blood after the mother gives birth. Whichever type of cord blood storage you choose, you are sure to help someone in need of stem cell therapy in the future – a family member or someone else.