Nowadays, new parents have the option of having their child’s umbilical cord blood preserved. Many of the companies where you can store the umbilical cord or cord blood advertise impressive healing possibilities from the blood. So it’s no wonder that parents often pay thousands of euros for this possible health care for their child.
This healing effect is made possible by the stem cells that are still abundant in the umbilical cord blood. These cells are able to “transform” into many other types of cells. For this reason, stem cell therapy has had a firm place in medicine for several years, especially for certain types of cancer.
The umbilical cord blood is taken from the umbilical cord directly after birth; usually it is 50 to 100 milliliters. This is uncomplicated and does not disturb either mother or child.
The blood is sent by courier to the laboratory, where it is analyzed. If it contains sufficient stem cells, it is frozen in nitrogen at about -200°C and thus lasts for at least 15 years. According to various experts, stem cells may even last for several hundred years.
Opinions differ as to whether storing umbilical cord blood makes sense. Many physicians point out that the patient’s own stem cells may be unsuitable if, for example, the disease is hereditary – in this case, the stem cells already have the corresponding defect.
The collection of umbilical cord blood also leads to the early weaning of the child, which must also be viewed critically. The valuable umbilical cord blood is already important for the child directly after birth, not only in case of a future disease. It has been proven that children who are weaned as late as possible still have higher iron levels months after birth than children who are weaned early.
So parents need to weigh the benefits and decide accordingly. However, there is always the option of having the cord blood stored free of charge at a public stem cell registry, where it can be made available to other children if needed.