Pros, cons of cord blood banking

Armin Brott Ask Mr. Dad

Q: My wife is due in three months and we've seen ads and fliers for cord blood banking. Several of our friends have signed up for it. Is it really worthwhile?

A: Not all that long ago, placentas and umbilical cords were considered medical waste. But today, the stem cells found in umbilical cords can be used to treat dozens of conditions, including leukemia and some cancers. And as technology advances, researchers are looking at cord blood stem cells as a possible cure for everything from torn ligaments and diabetes, to heart disease, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injury.

So when it comes to your baby's umbilical cord, you have three basic options: throw it away, donate it to a public cord blood bank or bank it privately.

Because of the tremendous potential benefits, I strongly recommend that you not toss it out. Let me give you some of the pros and cons of the other two options: