By Viacord, a provider of high quality, umbilical cord blood stem cell collections for families.
Awareness is defined as “having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge.”1 That’s exactly the goal of Cord Blood Awareness Month, in July, which aims to help people gain knowledge about the value of cord blood stem cells and realize how saving these precious cells could potentially benefit a family.
Many people think learning about cord blood requires a science background or is a time consuming process. It’s quite the contrary, however. When it comes to learning about cord blood, there are just a few important points to know:
1. What is cord blood:
- Cord blood is the blood that remains in a newborn’s umbilical cord after birth;
- It’s a great source of stem cells—the building blocks of tissue, organs, blood and the immune system;
- Collection of cord blood is a quick, straightfowrard and painless procedure.
- Stored cord blood provides a potential medical resource for a patient in need of a stem cell treatment.
2. What cord blood stem cells can do:
- Cord blood stem cells can renew themselves and become specialized stem cells to help repair or replace a patient’s damaged or diseased cells.
- They are used today in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases2, including various types of cancer and blood diseases.
- More than 30,000 umbilical cord blood transplants have been performed to date3 and nearly 50% of all pediatric transplants now involve cord blood.4
- Research continues to expand the medical uses of cord blood including the potential treatment of cerebral palsy, type 1 diabetes and autism. 5,6,7
3. What options are available for a baby’s cord blood stem cells:
- Save It. Saving a baby’s cord blood with a family bank, like ViaCord is a personal choice, but the reasons to do so are growing and include:
- The baby is a perfect genetic match to his or her own stem cells
- Siblings have up to a 75% chance of being a match for each other7
- Studies show that using matched cord blood from a relative will double the chance of transplant success7
- Donate It. Public cord blood banks will take cord blood donated by families after birth, but only from a limited number of hospitals around the country.
- Donated units must meet specific criteria to be accepted into banks.
- The cord blood is stored and made available to anyone with a medical need and who is an adequate match.
- Families are not guaranteed access to their blood should they ever need it.
- Discared It. If a baby’s cord blood is neither saved nor donated, the umbilical cord will simply be cut and discarded as medical waste after birth.
Educating people on the value of cord blood stem cells may help keep this precious resource from being thrown away as medical waste and ultimately help shed light on the life-saving potential of cord blood stem cells. Help make this Cord Blood Awareness month a success – share this newsletter with your friends pass along the knowledge!
Disclaimer: Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will work and only a doctor can determine when it can be used. Cord tissue stem cells are not approved for use in treatment, but research is ongoing.
- Merriam-Webster Online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awareness
- Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.Data on file. PerkinElmer, Inc. Most of the diseases on this list are inherited genetic diseases. Typically, these treatments require a donor transplant, such as from a sibling. If your child needs a donor, a family member is always the first-choice source. Treatments for cancers like neuroblastoma can use a child’s own cord blood. Although the potential use of newborn stem cells is expanding rapidly, the odds a family member without a defined risk will need to use their child’s stem cells are low. Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will be effective and only a treating physician can determine when it can be used.
- Nature Biotechnology. Hemacord approval may foreshadow regulatory creep for HSC therapies.http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v30/n4/full/nbt0412-304.html. April 10, 2012.
- National Marrow Donor Program®. Trends in allogeneic transplants: Figure 5, NMDP Transplants in Pediatric Patients by Cell Source (bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells or cord blood), 1988-2010.http://www.marrow.org/PHYSICIAN/URD_Search_and_Tx/Number_of_Allogeneic_Tx_Perfor/index.html. Accessed September 14, 2011
- Harris DT, Badowski M, Ahmad N, Gaballa MA. The potential of cord blood stem cells for use in regenerative medicine. Expert Opin Biol Ther.2007;7(9):1311–1322.National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov. Umbilical cord blood infusion to treat type 1 diabetes.http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00305344. Accessed September 11, 2012.
- National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov. Umbilical cord blood infusion to treat type 1 diabetes.http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00305344. Accessed September 11, 2012.
- National Institutes of Health, ClinicalTrials.gov. A randomized study of autologous umbilical cord blood reinfusion in children with cerebral palsy.http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT1147653. Identifier NCT01147653. Accessed September 11, 2012.
- Gluckman E, Rocha V, Boyer-Chammard A, et al. Outcome of cord-blood transplantation from related and unrelated donors. Eurocord Transplant Group and The European Blood and Marrow Transplantation Group. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:373-381.