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Biotech

Umbilical Cord Blood Banking? 409

Posted by kdawson
from the banking-on-future-research dept.
Maestro writes "There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot. What are your thoughts on umbilical cord blood banking? This seems like a major question for our newborn; the question is almost as stressful for us as naming the baby. Given Obama's stance on stem cells, the topic is timely. My understanding is that while the current uses for cord blood are limited, the sky's the limit for the future of stem cell therapies. But with the initial cost over $1000, and ongoing yearly fees, is it worth it?"
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Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?

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  • useless in 10 years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by messner_007 (1042060) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:09AM (#26636361)

    In ten years, this thing will be useless, because we will be able to reprogram somatic cells to do all the work.

    • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamcNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:26AM (#26636471) Journal

      yeah right, cancer was meant to have been cured by now too.....

      • by messner_007 (1042060) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:46AM (#26636577)

        This is true, but Umbilical Cord cells aren't magical weapon for curing all diseases. There are not so many real uses for them today. They are promising, but not really curing the diseases.

        The trick is in reprogramming. Those cells can reprogram to any cell in the body and theoretically replace any falling organ, but it is not sure if they will. Most of the time, they don't.

        When we will be able to reprogram them (for example) to become insulin islet cells, then we have won the battle. We will cure diabetes. But when we will know how to reprogram them, then we will not need Umbilical cells, that aren't of much use today (although they aren't totally useless). We could easily use somatic cells (mature cells in the body) and program them to behave as we want ... some nice progress is being made on that field today ...

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Klaus_1250 (987230)

          There are not so many real uses for them today. They are promising, but not really curing the diseases.

          There are a lot of places in Asia where they think otherwise and where you can get Stem Cell treatments with Umbilical Cord cells. Not cheap though (though not expensive compared to Western health care).

          AFAIK, results are mixed; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But to say there is no real use is saying too much. Forgot the name, but there is a few years old tv-documentary about all this.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by messner_007 (1042060)

            "But to say there is no real use is saying too much."

            I wrote: "although they aren't totally useless"

            I also wrote, they will be really useful when we will be able to program them, and then we will no longer need Umbilical cord cells, because we will be able to use somatic cells and program them ... .. by the way ... "Forgot the name, but there is a few years old tv-documentary about all this." ... this is a fantastic citation of a reliable source, congratulation ...

            • by Cowmonaut (989226)

              I'm curious where you get somatic cells. I haven't really been paying attention to biology for the last few years to be honest. I thought somatic cells were ones that grow into other cells. Don't you get those from umbilical cords like stem cells?

              I know for when they cloned Dolly and Snuppy it was somatic cells but yea. I think I'm confusing the two a bit.

              • Cold reboot (Score:3, Interesting)

                by messner_007 (1042060)

                "I'm curious where you get somatic cells" ...

                Somatic cells are all the "normal" - already adult - cells ... you can pick a cell you want (OK, maybe not the ones that are to specialised and totally changed for that) and program it, so it behaves as you like. You could theoretically "down-program" all the cells you want ... reset to the origin, where the cell was first programmed to do what it does as an adult (somatic) cell. It should be something like "cold reboot". And after the reboot, insert "Live CD" wi

            • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:21AM (#26637541) Journal

              I agree with you. Just the other day I read that stem cells can be cultivated from teeth, and converted to any other cell, so the cord blood is not really necessary. Take the ~$10,000 you're likely to waste on cord blood storage, invest it in an IRA or other taxfree instrument, and then twenty years from now use that money to pay for your kid's college. Getting that education will be FAR more important to his health than some old rotting cord.

              And then if he needs a new organ, they can take one of his old baby teeth, or his wisdom teeth, and harvest stem cells from there. No need for the umbilical.

          • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:38AM (#26637205) Journal

            AFAIK, results are mixed; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't

            And sometimes people spontaneously get better without any treatment at all, and sometimes they don't.

            But to say there is no real use is saying too much

            The right thing to say is: Until more trials are conducted, it is impossible to know if it is useful or not.

    • Clearly you are not a parent. Neither am I.

      However if I were I would view $1000 now and say $500 a year an unbelievable value gamble. In ten years this is all of a $6000 investment. Over on top of insurance of course.

      I'm not one to gamble. But I know a good bet when I see one. I suspect that those "reprogramed" cells will not be as valuable as my natural fresh from conception ones. I suspect a doctor will go. "Holy Crap you have your own stem cells with you" well this is a no brainer procedure. You

      • by professorguy (1108737) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:12AM (#26637021)
        Yes, you must extend your child's life by any means necessary. Make sure you spend on EVERY possible long-shot method of eeking out even one more precious second. No price is too steep--other wise you are a terrible parent.

        Because, let's face it. If you can prevent the one-in-a-thousand chance of getting some exotic cancer which can be cured with some soon-to-be-discovered cell procedure, then your child will never die!

        I guess this will justify also every extreme spending to prevent any one possible way they might die. So I guess you will also spend a few thousand bucks on Lego Brick Tracheotomy Kit, because, you know, otherwise.... (Well, they don't work yet, but we expect them to be useful in the future.)

        Now where do I put the /sarcasm tag?

  • by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:14AM (#26636387)

    But with the initial cost over $1000, and ongoing yearly fees, is it worth it?"

    A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe. When he tried to get a prosthesis, Bluecross/Blueshield denied the request because he wasn't covered. He now beats himself for having wanted to save $30/year on insurance.

    Same for stem cells from umbilical cords: sure it looks costly, but in the event you get leukemia or some other nasty ailment in you lifetime (unlikely probability but definitely not zero), you'd find the investment very cheap indeed.
    I myself would pay without hesitation.

    • by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:22AM (#26636449) Homepage Journal

      A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe [...] He now beats himself

      With the other arm, presumably?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by wild_quinine (998562)

      A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe. When he tried to get a prosthesis, Bluecross/Blueshield denied the request because he wasn't covered. He now beats himself for having wanted to save $30/year on insurance.

      Yeah, but it feels like someone else is doing it.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:31AM (#26636801) Homepage
      And have you any idea how much it can cost if an elephant falls on you? I have a small rock here that repels elephants. Normally $1000, but to you, only $1500 if you buy today.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bone marrow transplants, and stem cell treatments are not all they're cracked up to be for leukemia cases.

      I've seen them kill more people than not.

      This coming from a two-time survivor of acute lymphocytic leukemia. Gimme four years of chemo any day of the week.

    • by rah1420 (234198)

      I have two kids' cord blood banked. It was about $1 grand per collection kit, now it's $95/year for cryo.

      Cheap, cheap insurance.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Zeagle (809853)
        How much do you pay a year on auto insurance. You pay for it and hope to NEVER use it. Same goes for stem cells. I was able to bank my daughters cells for $600 initial and $95 a year till shes 18. I have only paid for one annual storage fee due to my referrals earning me free storage! Hope I never use it...
    • if he had bought the insurance?

      Right now, I'm in the process of filing appeals and interviewing lawyers because my health insurance provider did not cover our son's birth. If insurance companies are willing to cheat their customers on matters as routine as childbirth, what makes you think they would treat a truly expensive condition any differently? Do you really believe that a for-profit corporation will pay a claim if they think they can get away with denying it?

      Your friend would probably not have

  • What?? (Score:3, Funny)

    by eclectro (227083) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:16AM (#26636401)

    There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot.

    You mean on Second Life??

  • Do it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lecithin (745575) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:21AM (#26636439)

    I'm a father of 4. Our newbie was born at 23 weeks/0 days gestation in December. He isn't due until April 12th. (Doing great, BTW) Birth weight was 1lb 6oz. (now at 2lbs 5oz.)

    My son just got transferred out of the NICU at Children's Hospital in MPLS yesterday. He has needed numerous blood products, several surgeries and we still have a long road ahead. The odds are that he will have some developmental problems in the future. We banked his cells. Perhaps they are not going to do us any good today - tomorrow may just help our little man.

    You just never know what is going to happen. For me, it is quite worth the investment.

  • Done (Score:4, Informative)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:28AM (#26636485) Homepage Journal
    In Italian hospitals we already have the full placenta collected and stored especially for stem cells.
    I'm only not sure whether you can claim your own back, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by messner_007 (1042060)

      In Slovenia, you can also put it in the cell bank, if you want, but you must do it on your own. It will be regulated soon, so it will be easier to do it ... I think it can be used for blood marrow transplantation ...

    • Re:Done (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:29AM (#26636783) Journal

      I'm only not sure whether you can claim your own back, though.

      To eat it like a true Scientologist?

      Om nom nom nom.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by dargaud (518470)
      Correct. There are two types of cord blood / placenta banks: those where you store it for yourself in case you need it (expensive, 1% chance it'll be used). And those where it's stored anonymously for compatible needing people (free, 100% chance it'll be used). Guess which system is used in the US ? And which one is used in Europe ? I thought so.
  • This is a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monadicIO (602882) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:38AM (#26636531)
    Cord blood banking seems to be a scam. I considered it briefly for our kid, but reading quite a bit about it, decided not to do it. Here's why: 1. Stem cells similar to those present in cord blood are easily obtained from our own (adult) blood if/when the need arises. 2. Very low chance that they will be useful to siblings/parents/other relatives. 3. No guarantee of how well these cells survive in the cryogenic environment. No guarantee from the banks of backup plans in case of failure. 4. All fancy stuff (about regenerating organs) from the cells is science fiction so far. 5. Medical science could find alternative ways to cure your conditions by then. 6. The bank guys are great at emotional blackmail --- like giving the greatest gift to your newborn, and being a bad parent otherwise. I had one guy who told me that I might even make money selling it in future. Shame on him.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by monadicIO (602882)
      Sorry, I should have prefaced it by saying that these are my opinions only for commercial ventures. If it's a govt. run thing for use by any needy person, I'd be all for it. Sadly such a set up did not exist where I live.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr (53032)

        That seems rather odd. Either it's a scam or its not; how does a scam become not-a-scam if it's done with tax money?

        -jcr

        • Re:This is a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

          by monadicIO (602882) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:07AM (#26636693)
          If free: can be used for research, doesn't just freeze up somewhere for years. There's a really slim chance it can help someone in need (very slim, though). If not free: some random company is feeding itself on your sense of insecurity.
          • It is not free we are all paying for it out of taxes.
            There is no guarantee that they won't freeze it or just throw it away.
            Research given a green light will do a lot of stupid experiments, vs. more carefully chosen and pretested experiments.

            Government can be just as bad as a corporation. Some corporations are much better then what the government can do.
            The problem with government is that they have a lot of mixed motives, many are not noble. A company as one motive... To Make Money.

            Here is my view...
            Republic

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by a1bert (114762)

          the problem is that there is a very rare use of your OWN cells. For example they are completely useless for curing geneticall problems (a lot of cancer has geneticall predispositions)

          Cord blood can save a life but usually not your own one. this's what commercial k services often forgot to say

          it's good to save cord blood but not for your child but for the others..

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by swillden (191260)

          That seems rather odd. Either it's a scam or its not; how does a scam become not-a-scam if it's done with tax money?

          -jcr

          Haven't you been paying attention? Tax money is FREE! It's unlimited! It's not like real money that people actually have to earn, you know.

    • Re:This is a scam (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Cymurgh (1462447) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:07AM (#26636687)
      A few years ago I came to the same conclusions as monadiclO, except for two things: I don't think it is a scam, just a very iffy proposition, sometimes shamelessly overhyped. And I did *not* even think suitable cells were available in adult blood (if there's new science since then, all the better!). If you can really afford it, go ahead and agonize. If you already wonder how to afford the baby carriage, I think you can save your family that expense with a clean conscience. Economic stress is not good for children either.
    • Re:This is a scam (Score:4, Informative)

      by azadrozny (576352) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:21AM (#26637093)

      3. No guarantee of how well these cells survive in the cryogenic environment.

      The literature we received at the time (2003) indicated that the blood could be saved for no more than 10 years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by johneee (626549)

        As of right now they're saying they can save it for at least 19 years and still be viable. The numbers change for the simple reason that they've been doing it now for 19 years and know that the stuff that was put in vats when they started is still viable and have no way of proving that it will last longer than that.

        At least this was how it was explained to me.

        The person who taught our pre-natal class spoke very briefly about it and said that she did know someone who died at 22 of lukemia who very likely wo

    • Re:This is a scam (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Asic Eng (193332) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:54AM (#26637325)
      We will have a daughter in March, so we looked into that topic, too. We went to a few presentation by hospitals in our area (they show you the facilities, introduce their staff, answer questions). In each presentation we asked about private cord blood banking - each time the doctors told us it was basically a scam. If your child needs stem cells at some point, the stem cells she will need will probably not be her own. So donating the blood to a state-run facility makes sense (it can help someone else). Storing it for your own use doesn't make sense (won't help someone else, and likely not yourself either). Where I live (Munich, Germany) the state-run cord blood bank doesn't need any donations currently - there are sufficient numbers of parents who choose to donate already. So it's not likely that the doctors were trying to push us in that direction for some ulterior motive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Internalist (928097)

      [snip]
      1. Stem cells similar to those present in cord blood are easily obtained from our own (adult) blood if/when the need arises.
      2. Very low chance that they will be useful to siblings/parents/other relatives.
      3. No guarantee of how well these cells survive in the cryogenic environment. No guarantee from the banks of backup plans in case of failure.
      4. All fancy stuff (about regenerating organs) from the cells is science fiction so far.
      5. Medical science could find alternative ways to cure your conditions by then.
      6. The bank guys are great at emotional blackmail --- like giving the greatest gift to your newborn, and being a bad parent otherwise. I had one guy who told me that I might even make money selling it in future. Shame on him.

      My wife and I also discussed cord-blood banking a lot before our girl was born. We read loads, talked loads, and when we met our OB-GYN, she basically said "don't bother" and gave reasons 1, 3, and 6, putting particular emphasis on 3 (in fact, 2 different OBs gave the same reasoning for not bothering). We opted not to bank with a clear conscience.

      Of course, like everything else about parenting decisions, this is a massively personal decision that should be made in close consultation with your spouse/partner

    • Re:This is a scam (Score:4, Informative)

      by freespac3 (548049) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:25AM (#26637569) Homepage

      I would like to point out that the use of umbilical cord blood (cord blood for short) is more than merely as a source of stem cells for some future potential treatment. It is currently an extremely important source of stem cells for stem cell transplant, the only "cure" for diseases like acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The reason being cord blood contains "virgin" immune systems which causes significantly less graft-vs-host issues when compared to using blood donated from an adult.

      Another good reason is that is a good backup source of *good* stem cells. Should your child be later diagnosed with some form of leukaemia, one treatment option is to wipe the slate clean and then implanting know good stem cells, i.e. cord blood. The probability of you being able to donate your stem cells for this and other procedures is low, because your child would inherit HLA from both parents, so a full match between child-parent is low. Best bet is child-child.

      My knowledge of such things come from the fact I am the recipient of not 1, but 2 set of cord bloods. One from Australia, one from USA. Thanks to the people who banked their babies cord blood and made it available, I am alive today. If I had to pay for it, my family certainly would have, so you _can_ make money from it, if that is your wish. Though if you had to pay out of your own pocket, it would be a good insurance policy.

      Cheers,
      Steve

    • Re:This is a scam (Score:4, Informative)

      by guydmann (1313789) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @10:34AM (#26638393)
      Cord Blood Banks are not a scam. I work at a bone marrow / cord blood registry and i can guarantee that these units save lives. However my situation is somewhat different from TFA as i work to find unrelated matches. For the related donor circumstance there are many uses for these cord blood units within your family or for the original donor. I feel i should give a little insight on each of your bullet points as you seem to have the idea but not the full perspective. 1. Yes, you can obtain Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC) however if the donor themselves is sick then the stem cells they are producing are not useful so the umbilical unit would be used for a fresh/clean source of stem cells. 2. Though you are correct that there is a low chance for this to be useful within your family can you imagine if you were part of the percentage that it was useful for how thankful you would be. The chance drops even lower when you consider that it's possible that no one in your family will get sick from a disease that stem cells would be useful to cure. However if you did need this sample it would be presumably a better match for a family member than an unrelated donor, which would be one of the few option for you. The other thing to consider on this point is that sometimes a perfect match is not what physicians are looking for so a guaranteed match on a number of antigens, a sibling has a very high likely hood of matching some of your antigens, might be more beneficial than an exact match. 3. Life has no guarantees. However Cord blood banks have a lot of experience storing these units. They are stored in countries all over the world and in 5 years of coordinating testing and transplantation of these units the only cases of unusable units have been caused by transportation issues and never storage issues. 4. Yeah there will be more stuff you can do with stem cells someday but today there are still many uses for those stem cells. 5. You say by then but consider the situation of a person i really know. He contracted Leukemia from over exposure to gasoline as a child, while build race cars with his father. He had to go through the process of unrelated bone marrow search, however if he had had his cord blood unit banked his physicians would have been able to transplant from that unit. 6. This is the only point i can't speak to. In the unrelated bone marrow world all units stored are matched against all the patients world wide. From your description it their sales men sound slimey, however not really lying, just playing up the benefits and the guilt. I'm not advocating storing Cord Blood units for personal use but people should not think they are without merit.
  • by Morty (32057) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:39AM (#26636535) Journal

    Do some cost/risk/benefit analysis. There is a relatively low probability that your kid will actually need stem cells from the umbilical cord. For this to be useful, (1) your kid would need to have a relatively narrow range of sicknesses, (2) medical science would need to have a mechanism that can utilize umbilical cord stem cells without being able to utilize other cell types; and (3) you would need to be able to afford the gene therapy. If you RTFA, you will see that various organizations recommend not doing this unless there is a history of certain diseases in the family. So is such a relatively low probability worth the expense? Obviously, you know your family history and financial situation better than someone else does.

    Meanwhile, college is a very likely expense. So consider setting aside the money into a college fund.

    It is also possible to donate the placenta. I hear that some of the donation sites try to do a best-of-both-worlds deal, where the placenta is put on hold for some time (for free) in case the child needs it. If the child doesn't need it by a certain time, the facility can then use it.

  • I have a ten month old son and we chose to bank his cord blood. We live in Canada and we used LifeBank. It essentially cost $1,000 to sign up, get the kit, collect the blood, and have it tested. They test for sample quality and such. We then paid $1,800 up front for 18 years of storage. My point is, the cost is $2,800 today and we don't have to think about it again. Our decision was mostly based on it being the cheapest insurance you can buy. Cord blood isn't only potentially useful to your child, bu
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N1AK (864906)
      Or the $2800 you invested over 18 years could be worth $15500 as a typical stock investment.

      I'm not saying it's a bad investment, but compare it to other things you could do to benefit the kid if you want to do a fair comparison.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by machine321 (458769)

        Or the $15500 you invested over 18 years could be worth $2800 as a typical stock investment.

        There, fixed that for the new economy.

  • Our decision (Score:5, Informative)

    by Minupla (62455) <minupla@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:45AM (#26636569) Homepage Journal

    We just went through this. We discussed it with our doctor (who happened to also be the head of obstetricss) his take on it was that it wasn't worth the investment, given the small set of conditions it would help with.

    We instead donated our daughter's cord blood to the local Children's hospital, where they will extract the stem cells for research purposes and if her blood matches anyone who currently needs it, it will go to them. Seemed more civic minded then putting the blood into a bank and placing a "reserved" sign on it.

    Min

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Same here. Our son was a healthy 9lb. 3oz. at birth, and we saw no need to tax our already meager budget with this. But donating it to the Texas Cord Blood Bank? The opportunity to help someone else? Priceless.

    • Re:Our decision (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jvolk (229717) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:19AM (#26637075)

      Yes, we chose to do the same thing. There are several advantages to this, namely:

      1) It is free vs. very expensive

      2) The blood is banked for anyone to use - this means that YOU can use it too if you need it - assuming nobody else has used it already. In general, the likelihood of someone else using your cord blood is pretty slim.

      3) There are a great many genetic diseases for which your cord blood will be of no use - because these cells contain the same defect your child already has.

      4) You get the benefit of knowing you could be saving a child who otherwise may not be saved.

      Of course, another big drawback is that (at least in my area), the cord blood needs to be harvested immediately. If your child is born in the middle of the night, the collection folks obviously aren't working (public/non-profit funding I suppose)...so then your cord blood is gone. Luckily for me, mine was born 11am on a Thursday, so that wasn't a problem.

      • by Minupla (62455)

        Ah, in our case, the hospital does the collection at time of birth (assuming something isn't going on that requires their undivided attention), and then stores it until the folks from Children's pick it up.

        Min

  • Advice we got (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mag7 (69118) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:47AM (#26636585) Homepage

    Donate it. There's not enough blood in a single cord to be useful for transfusion purposes. You don't need your own cord blood for the expected applications of cord blood (i.e. stem cell therapies).

    It's more useful now to researchers, or even more practical- in combination with other cord donations to treat a patient with leukaemia (or a number of other diseases [sch.edu.au]) now.

    Donate it. Consider it a "pay it forward" situtation.

    Sadly we wanted to donate both our kids cords, but the private hospital we used was not part of the national cord blood bank program.

  • Not worth it (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In most cases where that blood could help, the very own sample is unusable, due to having the same defect that caused the illness. Also the amount of stem cells from one sample is not enough very soon.

    Voluntary sending it to public bank makes more sense from the technical viewpoint, but getting it financed is another matter - you'd hardly shell out $1000 for that.

    Private banks are basically a scam, you pay for something that will hardly help anyone.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:50AM (#26636597)

    /. invited me to drink from the firehose>.> I hope there isn't some type of vampiric code running here.

  • Basiclly if you put it in for free, they may use it they may not. If the kid needed it later they'd try to find it. We opted for that but there wasn't enough in the cord anyway so it was all moot.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @06:51AM (#26636607)

    'The primary reason that parents consider banking their newborn's cord blood is because they have a child or close relative with or a family medical history of diseases that can be treated with bone marrow transplants. Some diseases that more commonly involve bone marrow transplants include certain kinds of leukemia or lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe sickle cell anemia, and severe combined immune deficiency.

    The odds that the average baby without risk factors will ever use his or her own banked cord blood is considered low; however, no accurate estimates exist at this time.'

    Having said that, if this had been an option when my kids were born, I've have probably done it. Compared with what kids cost you over time, 1000 is peanuts.

  • by damg (906401) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:07AM (#26636697)
    It's free to donate it [charityguide.org] and you know it actually gets put to good use rather than sitting in a blood bank. Plus I think you get some real life karma for it. Well either way, don't let the doctor discard it (like usually happens).
  • FEAR is a marketing tool for the Baby Industrial Complex, and it starts with this umbilical cord bullshit. They'll want you to buy all manner of unnecessary items and services, because you'll think that if you don't your child is surely doomed! Read this amusing article about it [wordpress.com]
    • by mikelieman (35628)

      Simpsons did it.

      "Bye Bye Nerdie"
      Episode no. 264
      Prod. code CABF11
      Orig. airdate March 11, 2001

  • Until there aren't any proven therapies developed you would be wasting your money.

    Right now we have a vague promise at best that therapies for certain diseases could be found, but nothing else.

  • by Smiling_Jack (673353) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @07:15AM (#26636723)
    A co-worker of my pointed me to a group that would collect the umbilical cord and blood for research use. It didn't cost a dime: they mailed us a little collection kit which we gave to the delivery room doctor, and he packaged everything up and mailed it. Now, granted, it's not earmarked for our kid's personal use. But it _is_ going towards stem cell research, which in my mind is a much more useful way to use cord blood at this juncture. Unless you have some family medical history for a condition that has a proven stem cell treatment, research is a good use for the cord blood, rather than spending a non-trivial amount of money renting freezer space. Unfortunately I don't have a website for the group we used: my co-worker gave me a pamphlet with a phone number on it. But I'm sure a quick search should turn up groups that will do free cord blood collecting for research, if you choose to go that route.
  • I've never heard of the exact thing you're talking about - I suspect it's a USA only thing.

    But we were given the chance to donate the umbilical cord blood to help with research (Stem Cell in particular). And why wouldn't we do it? Helps others, and something we obviously won't be using ourselves. That was 11 months ago.

    I suspect what you're talking about is some sort of scheme where a third party stores the blood "just in case" (the same sort of "just in case" as freezing your body when you die) - the ho

  • In 2007 I lost my daughter of 22 to leukemia. In my opinion saving the umbilical cord is a no brainer. Yes, you must save it or later possibily spend the rest of your life with the burden of knowing that you could have.
    • First, my condolences. Parents should never have to outlive their children.

      Second, the tech has changed drastically. They now have the ability to change a regular cell into a stem cell. Due to the issues concerning the use of regular stem cells, I am sure that within 4 more years, this is be normal and easy to do. To be honest, my wife and I thought about it 2 years ago, but decided against it for the reason above.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Scarblac (122480)

      It wouldn't have saved her. The blood only keeps for ten years and the amount of blood in one umbilical cord isn't enough to treat an adult with.

  • Gamble. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by ledow (319597)

    It's a touchy subject and it depends on your beliefs and how you go about doing it.

    Does donating cord blood to a public entity that can then use it to help anyone really help? Yes, quite obviously, which is why blood banks of any sort exist. If they take it from you and store it for free... it means THEY NEED IT (think regular blood donations, where they sometimes even PAY YOU for your blood). Be even kinder and donate it to somewhere that pays you, but refuse the payment.

    If they charge you to store it,

    • by Gulthek (12570)

      My family on both sides has no history of heart disease or cancer (and that's including more than a few from the 'smoked heavily since they were kids in the 40s and 50s' demographic). Average lifespan too, so it's not that they were dying off before diseases could manifest.

  • by Genda (560240)

    In the next few years we'll have effective cold sleep abilities (initiated by hydrogen sulfide exposure), which will allow us to put the terminally ill into suspended animation until the tech arrives that can cure the illness. This is not to be confused with cryogenics. The body is not frozen, so no problems with ice damage. The blood is simply replaced with an oxygenated superfluid, and the body is brought down to a near freezing temperature. Then later brought back to normal temps once a cure is found.

    So

    • by dargaud (518470)

      In the next few years we'll have effective cold sleep abilities (initiated by hydrogen sulfide exposure)

      Oh, that's why farting at work breaks my concentration and makes me drowsy...

  • When our (now 11 month old) Son was born it was an easy decision.
    Over here it costs around AU$3k to store it for personal use until he is 21 years old.
    Then if he still wants to keep it he has to pay extra.

    It was even easier for us because the current Government was giving out a AU$4.5k Baby bonus (a once of cash lump sum). We used it for that... it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and I suspect it still was.

    Something else you should know, there are public blood banks that will store it much ch

  • Public Banking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alvin67 (968189) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:23AM (#26637099) Homepage
    We donated the cord blood from both of our daughters to a public cord blood bank. There is no cost, and it is much more likely that someone will get use from it.
  • Between now and a month from now, I'll hopefully be a parent too. We've also had this discussion. Eventually we decided not to do this, because it's just very unlikely to ever help.

    The technology is unproven. The amount of blood taken is quite small so it's likely to only be useful in the first few years of the child's life, any later there would be more needed. In the few cases where these cells could be used, donors can often be found. And in a few more years, we should be able to get stem cells from othe

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @08:30AM (#26637155) Homepage

    I have a 7 week old, and we used the New England Cord Blood bank because they are public. Private cord blood banks are a scam, and they are immoral. Somewhere I read somewhere that the American Board of Pediatrics quasi-condones the practice. You should be able to find a public cord blood bank that is available to you wherever you are in the US. Many states have laws requiring that local banks take your donation for free.

    As far as public/private is concerned:

    1) There are many diseases where you CANNOT use your own cord blood cells to treat them.

    2) Since the odds of you needing the cells is low, it is preferable to bank them publicly so that if you don't use them, someone else can. Likewise, if you need someone else's cells, you have access to them.

    Matching stem cells is comparable to matching bone marrow. It's not as easy as matching blood types. But once there is a large enough public supply, people should find stems cells readily available for treatments.

    Many doctors offices and birthing centers will try to sell you on private banking. Don't listen: Many of them aren't even aware that public banking is possible, or don't mention it even if they do know. The salesman of the private banks come around and give them flyers and I-don't-know-what-else-kickbacks so the offices are biased. If you ask an OB/GYN what use the stem cells are, it is like asking them to bet on a roulette wheel. Not only is it unlikely now, but we have no idea what future treatments, IF ANY, will be available from the cells. So medically, there's just no good answer on the issue.

    Check out the Wikipedia articles on this subject, and follow the links to the various studies. You'll find lots of good information there. If you can't find a public cord blood bank near you, check your state laws or contact your local hospital and ask.

  • My understanding is that while the current uses for cord blood are limited . . .

    That may be true. Some of the potential maladies that could be cured by the stem cells in cord blood may be present in the banked blood, for instance genetic disorders. However, if you have more than one child, and you have blood banked for one of your other children, the other child's banked blood could be useful.

    I, too, was skeptical of banking my child's blood due to the high cost, but our pediatrician and our OB/GYN bot

  • Most countries are shunning private banks where everyone must keep their cord blood with public banks where people in participating hospitals donate the cord blood to the bank. The goal is to have enough cord blood donated to have matches for almost everyone that would need it. In fact, it is probably better to have a match from a non-relative. For example, most doctors do not want to use a child's own cord blood to treat leukemia since the reestablished immune system would probably also be susceptible to
  • College Fund (Score:2, Insightful)

    by denbesten (63853)

    Use the $1000 to establish a college fund. The odds that your child will use it and that it will help your child are much better.

  • by srealm (157581) <prez AT goth DOT net> on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:22AM (#26637549) Homepage

    To do cord banking they have to basically clamp the cord as soon as the kid is out. WHILE it is still pulsing. This means that the cord blood they bank is the blood the kid WOULD have gotten if you had let the cord stop pulsing.

    I say let the kid have the blood (ie. stem cells) at birth, and use them for further development and growth.

    But then, both my kids were born AT HOME with a midwife. No drugs, no unnecessary procedures, and no c-sections because the birth is not happening on the doctor's timetable (omg! he might miss his golf game!). Plus it was cheaper, and we had one-on-one attention from the midwife + assistant for the whole time, rather than anonymous nurses checking in, and a doctor who swoops in when you start pushing and that's it. All in all, a much better and less stressful experience.

    Cord banking is obviously not an option for home births (just as anesthesia isn't), but I would not do it anyway just because it deprives the kid of those same cells.

  • As you obviously know by bringing up probable changes in future stem cell policy. As others point out, there might not be any use for this material in a few years, although it's probably more significant that most people won't ever use their banked stem cells. But before we deal with hypotheticals, we should deal with established facts first.

    The first question I'd ask myself is this: do we have a family history of diseases where this tissue would be useful therapeutically? If any of my siblings, nephews

  • by internerdj (1319281) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @09:55AM (#26637871)
    to better understand stem cells. The information I ran across indicated those really working with stem cell treatments generally concidered those programs dubious and some programs around the world are just plain taking the money and running. While you are probably in a semi-ethical location that probably wouldn't be the case outright. The concerns were that at this level of research: They aren't sure what they will be able to practically do with banked stem cells. They aren't sure that they won't be able to get them for free out of your own body when they finally get to the treatment phase. Just donate, it will be useful for researchers and may be a poor investment on your end otherwise.
  • Third option... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @11:31AM (#26639175) Journal
  • Total BS (Score:3, Informative)

    by joebok (457904) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 @12:12PM (#26639821) Homepage Journal

    Put your baby's cord blood where it will do the most good - let your baby have it! There is no reason to clip the umbilical cord so quickly as is done in most hospital births - let it pulse for a minute or two. There is a natural reaction to cold air that will clamp off the umbilical birth. That is what has been going on for millions of years - let the baby have the blood!

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