As parents, we want to do everything possible to protect our kids throughout their lives. But what if I told you it was possible to protect your baby’s health before they are even born? Sounds a bit like science fiction, right? It’s possible with cord blood banking. Read on to find out more. 

What is cord blood banking?

Your baby’s umbilical cord is actually rich in powerful stem cells, which are often referred to as the ‘building blocks of life’. Doctors and scientists have been using umbilical cord stem cells since the 1980s to treat many conditions, including leukaemia and lymphoma. After birth, some of these powerful cells are left behind and are available to collect to store for you and your family. 

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells, which means they have the potential to become a variety of different cell types. Basically, they have a special power and can move around the body to help other cells which are damaged or need a little extra help! 

Increasingly, stem cells are being used to unlock the future of medicine. Doctors have used them to find ways to treat untreatable diseases and cure incurable conditions. Today, they are used for neurological disorders, heart disease, blood disorders and bone injuries.  A study at Texas University even succeeded at growing a new heart out of stem cells, which suggests a future where medical science can replace damaged body parts and organs with little to no chance of rejection.

Where are stem cells found?

Stem cells can be found throughout the body, which may make it seem as though they can be easily collected for transplantation – but it’s the volume and the age of the stem cells that are what makes the difference in treatments.

As we age, so do our stem cells. Over time, they lose their ability to reproduce and differentiate into other cell types. That’s why it is crucial to collect as many stem cells, as young as possible. More stem cells could mean the difference between only treating a child in one treatment or having enough cells to treat an adult with multiple treatments.

Umbilical cord blood and tissue are two of the most powerful sources of stem cells a person will ever have. They contain billions of powerful stem cells which are pure and plastic, meaning that they can become almost any cell in the human body.

woman giving birth and about to collect stem cells from umbilical cord for cord blood banking

However, you only have one chance to collect these powerful stem cells – in the moments after birth. The arrival of your little one therefore represents a unique opportunity to store these cells for later use. By banking your child’s cord blood, they can gain access to pioneering treatments if and when they need them.

Potential uses of stem cells

The list of potential uses of stem cells seems to be ever-growing. Cord blood stem cells can already be used to treat more than 85 diseases worldwide and there are several clinical trials actively investigating other conditions, including skin disorders, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. They are also the only potential treatment for cerebral palsy.

We’re still learning about the full power of cord blood but the possibilities are very encouraging; one recent study has even successfully treated a critically ill COVID-19 patient using umbilical cord stem cells with several other studies following suit. Whilst these clinical trials are still in their early days, the initial results are promising.

Private cord blood banking

Although a public register exists for stem cell transplants, your child’s own sample is their perfect biological match. That means their body will not reject a potential transplant. So you will always have peace of mind if the need for treatment arises.

Your baby’s cord blood sample can also be used to treat close family. Siblings have a 25% chance of being a perfect match if they need a stem cell transplant. As well as an additional 50% chance of a partial match. This means your baby’s sample could potentially save the life of any of your children.

There are many important considerations  to take into account when choosing a private cord blood bank. How much experience do they have? Do they preserve all the stem cells available?

Rear view of female scientist using PCR machine in laboratory to check DNA before cord blood banking
Rear view of female scientist using PCR machine in laboratory

Cells4Life is the UK’s largest and leading cord blood bank, serving more UK-based families than any other. The company has already released 13 samples and have been established for more than 18 years.

Founded in 2002, Cells4Life offers a unique, patented and pioneering CellsPlus service. Powered by an exclusive TotiCyte formulation, CellsPlus preserves 3 times more stem cells at the point of treatment than the industry standard processing method  – allowing your child to make the most of their sample with more opportunities for therapy throughout their entire life.

Storing your baby’s cord blood sample is quick, non-invasive, and completely safe. While you enjoy your first moments with your little one, cord blood banking can protect your family’s future and give you confidence that your baby is future-proofed.

If you are interested in discovering the full potential of cord blood banking, you can request a free guide here.

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