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Thread: Is it worth banking your baby's cord blood

  1. #1

    Is it worth banking your baby's cord blood

    I know that the following article is now more than 3 years old but what it says is worthwhile and probably better said than any other article that I have seen on the subject. Given the large number of queries that I have received about umbilical cord blood, I thought that I would post a link to the article here.

    By the way, my recommendation is in keeping with what is talked about here. If you have a family member who may benefit from umbilical cord blood transplant, I think that you should store the cord blood because even though the chances are low that the blood will be used for the baby, having blood from a close relative gives a higher probability of a good match than trying to find a match from a public bank.

    Will umbilical cord blood cells be useful for spinal cord injury? I don't know. Several animal studies have reported beneficial effects and there are claims from several clinics that it is useful. However, I don't think that any of the data is currently convincing. In most cases, the blood is being given intravenously or intrathecally, and I am not sure that the cells will get to the spinal cord in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

    When cord blood is given to treat hematopoietic disorders, the hope is that the stem cells would engraft in the bone marrow and continue to make both red and white blood cells. The cells must be HLA-matched. HLA stands for human leukocyte antigens and are the factors that doctors match for organ transplant. There are many HLA antigens but three are believed to play a major in role determining immune rejection of transplanted tissues: A, B, and DR.

    Since each person has HLA antigens from the mother and father, there are six HLA antigens that need to be matched. If one had 6 out of 6 match, that is usually called a "perfect" match and the likelihood of engraftment is high. However, unlike bone marrow and other tissue transplants that require a 6 out of 6 (6:6) match for engraftment, umbilical cord blood frequently will engraft even if the match is only 5:6 or 4:6.

    Bone marrow transplants can be done but they require 6:6 match and preferably be obtained from a close relative because bone marrow cells may attack the host into whom the cells are transplanted. Called graft versus host diseases (GVHD), this condition must be treated with immunosuppressants and chemotherapy which may eventually cause the graft to fail. Even with the best methods of eliminating t-cells from the tranplanted bone marrow cells, the transplanted cells attack host cells in over 50% of the cases. Therefore, it is essential that only bone marrow with 6:6 match and preferably from a close relative be used for transplantation.

    Umbilical cord blood transplants are better than bone marrow transplants for three reasons. First, cord blood is readily and immediately available. To do a bone marrow transplant, a bone marrow donor must be found and then the bone marrow is removed, prepared, shipped, and transplanted, an expensive process that may cost up to $75,000 and take up to 3 months. Second, one has a much higher chance of finding a 4:6 matching cord blood unit than a 6:6 matching bone marrow donor. Even with worldwide bone marrow registries, the chance of finding a match is less than 50%. Third, the umbilical cord blood has a much lower probability of graft-versus-host-disease.

    Recently, peripheral blood stem cell transplants have become popular. These are similar to bone marrow cells. A donor takes drugs (GCSF, for example) that stimulate the bone marrow to grow. This results in greater release of stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream. Blood is collected and cells that expresss the CD34 marker are removed from the blood. These can take the place of bone marrow or cord blood cells.

    In order for umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, or peripheral blood stem cells to engraft into blood-forming cells, it is necessary to eliminate the host's own bone marrow stem cells. In the beginning, clinicians used whole body radiation and chemotherapy. These harsh treatments, failure of engraftment, and development of graft-versus-host-disease may result in 30-40% of the patients dying.

    So, even though bone marrow replacement by these cells may be beneficial for treatment of auto-immune diseases (such as MS, Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.), the high mortality rate of the treatment resulted in physicians using this treatment only for diseases where the bone marrow must be eliminated (i.e. leukemia) or is defective (Fanconi's anemia).

    In recent years, milder myelo-ablation chemotherapeutic methods combined with anti-T-cell antibodies have been used with lower mortality rates. For example, several recent series of studies treating children with thalassemia suggest that cord blood transplants can be carried out with no mortality. While there is still a significant risk of morbidity, it is now a therapy that may be considered for non-fatal conditions, such as MS and SCI.


    Doctors say hard sell of hope is deceptive

    Janine DeFao, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Umbilical Cord Blood

    Part One: Is it worth banking your baby's cord blood?

    Part Two: Babies with siblings' life in their hands

    When Lisa Recker was pregnant, she was inundated with ads touting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the "best investment" in the future health of her child and her family: preserving the blood from her baby's umbilical cord.

    Cord blood, as it is known, contains stem cells that can be used in transplants to cure leukemia and other diseases and may someday treat ailments from diabetes to Alzheimer's. For as little as $1,100, the ads read, preserved cord blood taken from Recker's daughter would provide "biological insurance" if the girl or another family member developed one of those diseases.

    As a gift, Recker's parents paid a San Bruno company, Cord Blood Registry, to collect the cord blood of her daughter, Nicola, and preserve it four years ago.

    But the ads for a burgeoning industry of private cord blood banks fail to say that doctors rarely transplant a child's own blood because it can contain the disease. And major medical societies advise against storing a child's blood for the family's potential use because it's not likely that a relative will develop a disease currently treatable by cord blood.

    "I don't feel completely hoodwinked, but more accurate information needs to be out there," said Recker, an actress who lives in Redwood City.

    As cord blood is used increasingly as an alternative to bone marrow, the success of more than 6,000 transplants worldwide since 1998 -- only 14 of them using the child's own blood -- has spawned at least 15 private cord blood companies that charge families an initial fee ranging from $1,100 to $1, 800, plus about $100 a year, to store a child's blood.

    "Most of the people in the hematology community think they're a bunch of snake-oil salesmen in these private companies," said Dr. Bertram Lubin, a blood specialist and president of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute. The hospital has the nation's only program that exclusively banks newborn cord blood, for free, for a sick sibling.

    "I get calls from parents who are distraught because they cannot afford to bank their kid's cord blood, and they feel like they're failing as parents before their child is even born," Lubin said. "I tell them there's no data to support that. You're being misled."

    The private firms argue that they provide a service that already can treat numerous diseases and holds promise for illnesses from Parkinson's to heart disease as research advances.

    "There are well over 70 diseases that have been successfully treated using umbilical cord blood stem cells, and there are many diseases -- from Parkinson's to stroke to heart disease to spinal-cord injuries and Alzheimer's -- in promising stages of research and development right now," said Mercedes Walton, interim CEO of Cryo-Cell International in Oldsmar, Fla. Her firm is one of the three largest cord blood companies, along with Cord Blood Registry and Viacord in Cambridge, Mass.

    Doctors such as Lubin do advise parents to save cord blood if they already have a sick child who can be cured by a blood stem cell transplant. They also recommend donating cord blood to public banks for anyone's use, although the opportunity is limited in the Bay Area. In April, a national panel of scientists recommended at least tripling the 50,000 cord-blood units now available through public banks, saying it would enable nearly 90 percent of the 11,700 Americans needing transplants each year to find cord blood or bone marrow matches.

    <much more>

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    New York USA
    Well it's only money worth the investment to bank the blood in my personal opinion. Hemophiliacs? My best friend's son happens to be one, his older brother is not, could not get a closer relative, I wonder if the bone marrow would help his younger brother? Medication for that disease is very expensive.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    Well it's only money worth the investment to bank the blood in my personal opinion. Hemophiliacs? My best friend's son happens to be one, his older brother is not, could not get a closer relative, I wonder if the bone marrow would help his younger brother? Medication for that disease is very expensive.
    At the present, to my knowledge, they are not treating hemophiliacs with bone marrow/cord blood transplants. However, as the mortality and morbidity rates of the therapies decline, I suspect that they will do more of these cases with myeloabilation and cord blood transplants. It is not only expensive but risky because each injection of the factors carry some risk of hepatitis or some infectious disease. if there is a relative who could benefit from cord blood, I believe the cord blood should be collected. This is common sense.


  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Denver, Colorado

    Any updates to your thoughts on this Wise

    I'm a c5/6 injury almost 13 years post injury. My wife and I are expecting our first child in July. Is there anything or any studies that would suggest that I should store the cord blood from my son's delivery in the hopes that it might be used to help restore any function for me? Would the cord blood from my genetic son be any more useful to me than cord blood from a bank? I've been searching to find info on this, and can't seem to find any. Are there any sound theories on cord blood helping to restore function in chronic injuries that might still be years away, that would warrant saving the cord blood for the future? Thanks in advance for your thoughts based on what's going on in 2011.

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