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What is Cord Blood?

By Lorna W.
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cord blood is blood contained in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. It is a popular substance because it is rich in stem cells, a very basic building block of the body. They can be used to treat some diseases because they have the potential to convert themselves into other types of cells.

Many scientists say that there is great potential in stem cells to one day treat a number of incurable conditions like diabetes and spinal cord injuries, although others say that such discoveries are unlikely. While these experiments continue, cord blood is highly valuable, since other sources of stem cells, such as frozen embryos, are increasingly controversial.

But all of the talk of the potential of stem cells from cord blood and other sources overshadows the great things that it can already do. For instance, it is commonly used in place of a bone marrow transplant in leukemia patients. The cord blood treatment is less invasive for both the donor and recipient. The recipient's body is also less likely to reject the cord blood than bone marrow because the stem cells in it haven't built up a natural resistance to foreign substances yet.

Cord blood can also be used to treat other cancers like lymphoma, anemia, immune deficiency conditions, metabolic conditions and many lesser known diseases.

The blood is collected after the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut. A needle is inserted into the umbilical vein and the blood is extracted. It is harmless to the baby. In a few rare cases where the blood is needed by the newborn, the doctor will help the blood drain into the child's body instead of collecting it.

When cord blood is collected, there are two banking options. Parents may donate the blood to a public bank where it will be available to anyone who may need it. Parents may also save it in a private bank for future family use. While some parents will hold on to the cord blood as a precaution, others save it because they have another child or a relative with a condition they know may require it. There are proponents for both sides of this highly personal decision.

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Discussion Comments

By cupcake15 — On Jul 10, 2010

Sunny27- I agree it is expensive, but it is a small price to pay if you have a family history of genetic disorders or deadly diseases.

It is especially necessary if the parents already have a child diagnosed with a disease or genetic disorder.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 10, 2010

Anon14708- I don’t know the answer to your question, but I just want to say that this article is great for anyone needing information regarding core blood.

The only thing that I want to add is the storing the core blood samples can be very expensive. Most core banks charge between $1000 to $2000 dollars not including set up and yearly maintenance fees. So it is something to consider when making a decision to bank core blood.

By anon14708 — On Jun 22, 2008

does the cord blood only match the father's blood type?

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