Historically, obstetricians have discarded babies' umbilical cord as medical waste. However, there's a growing trend to store umbilical cord blood because it contains hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cells, similar to those in bone marrow.

Stem cells are the building blocks for organ tissue, blood, and immune system cells, and may have a role in treating numerous medical conditions. Cord blood stem cells are not the same as embryonic stem cells.

You can freeze cord blood (and cord tissue) in a private cord blood bank for potential future family use, or in a public bank, so your baby's cord blood is available to anyone who might need it.

The Pros of Cord Blood Storage

  • The primary advantage of storing your baby's cord blood is that it's available if your child becomes sick. Stem cell transplants are standard treatment for numerous life-threatening illnesses, including many types of cancer and blood diseases.
  • Cord blood is easier to transplant than adult donor blood cells, especially for people from minority or mixed-race backgrounds.
  • You don't have to worry about finding a matching donor in times of need.

The Cons of Cord Blood Storage

  • You generally can't use stem cells to treat genetic diseases because the cells' DNA probably contains the code for the illness.
  • You must decide and register ahead of time if you want to donate or store cord blood. Your physician must order a cord blood collection kit before your baby's birth.
  • Umbilical cord blood stem cells are only appropriate for transplantation in children or young adults. There are not enough stem cells for a complete adult transplant.
  • It's costly to store private cord blood. The collection and processing fee runs about $2,000, and cord banks charge a yearly storage fee. In contrast, you don't incur costs when you donate cord blood for public use.

The American Pediatric Association (APA) discourages storing cord blood at private banks for later personal or family use as a general "insurance policy." Rather, the organization recommends parents donate cord blood to public banks to benefit others who might someday need it.

According to the APA, the likelihood your child will need his own cord blood ranges from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 200,000. Furthermore, the APA says there's insufficient evidence that cord blood transplants with a child's own stem cells are more beneficial than using matching donors' stem cells.




Cord Blood Registry. Web. http://www.cordblood.com/

Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. Web. 15 August 2012. http://parentsguidecordblood.org/

Epigee Women's Health. "Disadvantages of Cord Blood Banking." Web.

American Pediatric Association. "Should We Store Our Newborn's Cord Blood?" Web. 4 June 2012. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/decisions-to-make/Pages/Should-We-Store-Our-Newborns-Cord-Blood.aspx

Cord Blood Banking Pros and Cons. "Cord Blood Banking - Is it for you?" Web.