You may have noticed that there is a lot of marketing and promotions done by banks nowadays. But what is a cord blood bank exactly? Well, it is a medical bank where doctors extract the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from the newborn umbilical cord and can be preserved indefinitely. You can bank the blood in a private or a public one and can be used later on to treat diseases and illnesses. This may sound like a wonderful medical breakthrough, but there are many myths about private cord blood banking making the rounds. Let us have a look at these myths and break the misconceptions clouding the minds of parents-to-be.
1. Can It Harm My Baby Be Harmed?
Collection of this is in no way harmful to the baby or the mother. The blood that is discarded after birth normally is collected and stored at bank.
2. Private Cord Blood Banks May Send Our Baby's Cord Blood for Research
This is a complete myth as private cord blood banks give exclusive accessibility and control to what you store. They charge you annually for storing this and will give you access as and when you require it in the future. Unlink public banks wherein the blood may be sent further for research purposes.
3. Choose Any Bank, They Are All the Same
Wrong. Private blood banks have to follow stringent norms in terms of quality, cost, location, and need to be FDA-approved and AABB-accredited. However, not all private ones have DA approval and AABB-accreditation. Those who have both, have high annual storage fees and better facilities to store your baby's cord blood for a longer duration.
4. It is Always Better to Store Cord Blood in Private Banks
Many to-be parents often think storing their baby's cord blood in private banks is better than donating it to a public bank. If your family has a history of certain diseases and disorders, then choosing a private blood bank may sound logical. However, there is no such history and you don't even know if you will ever need to access the stored this, then donating this to a public bank is a wise decision.
5. You Can't Treat Your Child With His / Her Own Blood as it May Be Diseased Itself
This statement does not hold much ground as autologous transplants have been in use for more than a decade. Use of one's own stem cells has helped in the treatment of many diseases ranging from neuroblastoma, lymphoblastic leukemia, etc.
6. This Blood can Remain Viable Only for 10 Years
Current studies have shown, stem cells stored for about 24 years remained viable without any decrease in viability or proliferation. It is even claimed by cryopreservationists these cells can be stored indefinitely in a controlled environment.
7. Cord Blood Banking And Ethical Issues
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there are certain issues related to the self-use of blood as promoted by such banks. The ICMR guidelines for stem cell research (2013) states there is no scientific basis for preservation of this for future self-use . Thus, this practice is not officially recommended and any use other than bone marrow transplantation apart from clinical trials is termed as a medical malpractice.
8. You Can Decide About Cord Blood Banking Just Before You Deliver
It is not a good idea to make a last-minute decision in most of the cases. Your hospital may not have the collection kit ready during the child's birth. There are many logistics that need to be figured out before you can store this. Thus, make sure you enroll early to this of your choice for smooth and hassle free collection during the birthing process.
These are a few of the common myths that are busted above. This does have many benefits in cases where there is a family history of leukemia or thalassemia. However, it will remain as a personal choice whether or not one should store the blood.