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What Is Cord Blood Banking (Stem Cell Banking)? Cord Blood Banks in India – Cost and Pros and Cons

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A baby’s birth is one of the happiest moments in the parents’ lives. However, getting a diagnosis for a chronic or severe disorder later in life is possibly a parent’s worst nightmare. With the prevalence of congenital anomalies in children, parents are now prioritizing cord blood banking to secure their child’s future.

The umbilical cord, which acts as a “transporting duct” for the fetus’s nutritional needs, works as a saving grace in case of complications like sickle cell anemia, cancer, auto-immune disorders, etc., which often require a stem cell transplant.

With advancements in the medical field, parents are now explained the importance of cord blood banking and what they can do for their children if they are later diagnosed with something life-threatening.

This article will explore more about Cord Blood Banking or Stem Cell Banking and the advantages and disadvantages.

How does Stem Cell Banking Help?

The umbilical cord is responsible for transporting nutrition and oxygen to the baby while developing in the womb.

Knowing what is stem cell banking is crucial to making the right decision for your child’s health and future.

The umbilical cord houses all the important “progenitor” cells, which are generally precursor cells that hold the potential to develop into different components in the blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Given that these stem cells can transform into any type of blood cell, they are stored and banked in the cord blood banks for future use. The stored stem cells can be later used to treat different bleeding disorders, auto-immune disorders, leukemia, sickle-cell anemia, metabolic disorders, etc.

In such severe disorders that need an immediate stem cell transplant, finding a suited and genetically compatible match often takes a lot of time. Finding a match is also often unsuccessful. So, banking a baby’s stem cells from the umbilical cord ensures fast-tracked processing for a quicker recovery of the affected child.

How does Cord Blood Banking Work?

The concept of cord blood banking is fairly new and isn’t a mainstream procedure in most countries. Given that the parents are focused on a healthy delivery of the baby, not many parents pay close attention to the possibilities of cord blood banking for future use.

This is one of the reasons why it is crucial to educate oneself before the baby’s birth. You can sit down with your OBGYN to discuss all the available options, including public and private cord blood banking.

Once parents approve the cord blood banking, the rest will be taken care of by the doctors and the cord blood bank that manage the samples. Here’s what happens:

  • The cord blood collection kit is prepared in the delivery room to ensure quicker sample collection is stored.
  • Before collecting the cord blood, the mother’s blood is tested for the presence of infectious diseases.
  • Following the successful delivery of the baby, the doctor will immediately clamp the umbilical cord and cut and remove it. This portion of the cord contains 40-120 ml of cord blood that will be extracted into the collection kit.
  • The collected sample is then treated in the cord blood bank’s lab and stored in the bank for future use.

Remember that the overall processing after collecting the cord blood is quite extensive. Professionals do the entire process at the cord blood bank, following which it is stored.

What are the Benefits of Cord Blood Banking?

The progenitor or hematopoietic stem cells are available in abundance in cord blood. They hold the potential to transform into any type of blood cell. These kinds of stem cells are generally produced in the bone marrow of a healthy person.

However, in patients with severe complications and chronic disorders, this process might be hindered, leading to the need for a stem cell transplant for potential recovery.

The cord blood banking stores the baby’s stem cells from the umbilical cord during birth. These cells are genetically compatible and can reverse many life-threatening complications in an individual down the road.

Besides treating patients with chronic disorders, the cord blood’s stem cells are also used to strengthen the immune system of a patient undergoing aggressive cancer treatment.

Also, the collected cord blood is kept frozen in the facility, which means that parents will have easy and direct access to the sample during times of need. There will be no waiting period for finding a compatible donor, which often takes time.

What are the Limitations of Cord Blood Banking?

Every coin has two sides to it. When it comes to cord blood banking, there are some disadvantages worth considering. The use of the stem cells from the banked cord blood is generally sufficient for children and not adults. This is primarily due to the limited availability of stem cells in cord blood.

Although public cord blood banks are available globally, they aren’t always accessible. Also, they involve a lot of complicated procedures and verification, which is why most parents switch to a private facility. The private cord blood banks have a hefty price tag for their services.

Since the concept of stem cell banking is still quite new, it isn’t surprising that the availability of this service is quite limited. You won’t readily find the talk of cord blood banking coming up during every doctor’s visit.

Lastly, eligibility for cord blood banking depends on several factors. If the mother has an infectious disease during pregnancy or delivery, the cord blood isn’t eligible for banking. So, you’d have to keep a lot of factors into consideration.

Which is Better for Cord Blood Banking – Public or Private Facility?

The availability of choice between public and private cord blood banks is limited to certain countries. For example, public stem cell banks in India are next to negligible. Hence, parents prefer paying out of pocket to store the cord blood in private facilities.

So, the choice between a public or a private cord blood bank is dependent on where you live, the accessibility of the facilities and the cost involved.

The primary objective of a public cord blood bank is to collect donations. Unlike the private facilities where the parents own complete authority over the cord blood, the public banks own authority over the donations they get.

Private cord blood banks involve an autologous transplant procedure (the person’s stem cells are used for their treatment). The Public cord blood banks involve allogeneic transplant procedures (donor-based stem cell transplant).

Which of the two you choose between the private or public cord blood bank depends on the intent behind the storage, the involved costs and outcomes from these procedures.

What is the Cost of Cord Blood Banking in India?

The Cord blood banking costs in India typically start from INR 45,000 for 21-years of coverage at a private cord blood banking facility.

Besides that, there are long-term subscription-based processes, wherein the prices start from INR 3000/year.

However, remember that the prices generally depend on the duration of the storage, the city you are availing the facility in and the kind of perks involved.

Also read : https://pregajunction.com/blog/picu-what-is-it-full-form-picu-vs-nicu/

FAQs

Is it worth it to bank cord blood?

Banking cord blood can be a little expensive, but it is hands down one of the best choices that a parent can make to protect their child’s health in the future.

What is the purpose of banking cord blood?

The primary purpose of banking cord blood is to preserve the progenitor stem cells from the umbilical cord to treat life-threatening disorders that call for a stem cell transplant.

What are the pros and cons of cord blood banking?

The pros of cord blood banking are securing the child’s health in the future. Since it is a genetically compatible match, the cord blood is ideal for patients suffering from cancers, autoimmune disorders, etc.

The biggest con of cord blood banking is the cost involved in the procedure. Also, the stored cord blood is generally effective for up to 21 years, following which it might not be enough to treat the health complications in adults.

Conclusion

Cord Blood Banking is becoming more and more mainstream with each passing day. If you want to safeguard your baby’s future from potential health complications, it is crucial to consider the pros and cons of stem cell banking in India before proceeding with the process. Also, ensure that you check the facilities you are considering and read through the terms and conditions before processing the payment.

 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.

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