10 February 2011

Cord Blood

I was just reading a post on Midwife Thinking's Blog that does a great job of explaining why I don't go in for cord blood banking.  I know the usual reasons I've heard are that those stem cells could someday be used to treat that child's illness later on, or that they are an ethical source of stem cells to develop treatment for others.

The problem with the first reason is that the child may never have an illness where those stem cells could be helpful in treating him.  Even if he does, there's no guarantee those stem cells will create a viable treatment for him.  But it has been shown that allowing the baby to receive the full amount of his blood is beneficial.  It's possible that blood, with those stem cells, could even help prevent any potential illness for which the stem cells would later be used to treat.

That leads me to the problem with the second reason.  Is it truly ethical to deprive a newborn of his own blood in order to bank it either for his or another's future use, without his consent?  Blood that makes Vitamin K deficiency bleeding less likely, raises his iron stores, and make his transition to breathing easier.  I'm not so sure it's really ethical to do that, to be honest.

I will say that I thought about cord blood banking when I was pregnant with K.  However, the more I looked into it, the more convinced I was that delayed cord clamping was the way to go, and that means cord blood banking isn't an option.  Unfortunately they did not follow my wishes about the delayed cord clamping with K, but C received the full amount of her blood, since the cord was not cut until it stopped pulsating.


  1. My midwife says that it is entirely possible to get enough blood from a cord if it has been clamped after it has stopped pulsating. It does take longer and you have to be more patient in draining the cord. (She says most doctors don't want to stand there for 15 minutes holding the cord and encouraging blood to drain.) She has submitted to the cord blood banks viable cord blood samples taken after "delayed" cord clamping at homebirths. Is there a difference between what the cord blood banks in the US and the UK will accept?

    I would have banked K's blood this way, but was prevented by cost, not ethical/health concerns.

  2. Oh, follow up:
    Just read Midwife's Thinking blog regarding cord blood extraction. So, it is time consuming, and difficult and involves a lot of faffing about for results that might not be what you're hoping for. In other words, you can try, but you have a good chance of failing. *shrug*

    I guess if you can't get enough viable blood to bank, you don't need to pay for the banking! If I was hoping to bank, but didn't want to deprive baby of blood, I think it'd be worth a shot. They do send out the kits for free - at least, they do here.

  3. I honestly don't know what the cord blood banks here will accept. I'd been unaware that they could bank the cord blood with delayed cord clamping until I read some of the comments on Midwife Thinking's blog, so that's good to know.

  4. Hey could explain the process to me. Is it true that you use liquid nitrogen equipment to store the cords?

  5. Do they store the cords in ln2 freezers or in special storage facilities?