July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month and we’re celebrating by spreading the word about cord blood. 

What is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking is the process of collecting blood from the umbilical cord after the baby is delivered.  This blood is collected into a kit provided by the cord blood banking company.  Your obstetrician performs the collection.  It is collected from the umbilical cord after the umbilical cord is cut.  There is no harm or pain caused to the baby or the mother.   

In order for parents to have cord blood banking performed, they would need to order the kit from the cord blood bank and bring it with them to the hospital for delivery.  They should discuss it with their obstetrician beforehand so that appropriate preparations can be made and questions answered.  There are several companies that provide cord blood banking. 

There are public and private banks.  We recommend the use of a public bank. In a public bank, the umbilical cord blood could be used by other families that have a child who needs an umbilical cord blood transplant.  In a private bank it can only be used by the family who collected it.  There is a much higher chance of it being used to help someone in a public bank.  A public bank is less expensive and there may be no long-term cost.  In a private bank a family would need to be pay a yearly fee for storage of the blood.  

We routinely perform delayed cord clamping for the benefit of baby.  In delayed cord clamping there may be less blood available for banking but it is still possible to collect enough to be used for banking. 

Umbilical cord blood can be used for hereditary metabolic disorders, blood malignancies or cancers, and genetic disorders of the blood and immune system.  It cannot be used on the child from which it was collected because the cord blood would contain the same genetic abnormalities or malignancies that are being treated.  Therefore, it could be used on siblings or other family members if stored in a private bank or for other children from other families if stored in a public bank.

If you have more questions about cord blood banking, call SIU Medicine at 217-545-8000 to set up an appointment with an obstetrician.