Cord Blood Banking – A Difficult Decision

Among the many difficult choices new parents must face, one is whether to bank their child’s cord blood. For both our dwarf and non-dwarf child, deciding how to proceed was no easy task. We attempted to research whether there was any special benefit for LP parents or parents of dwarf babies to bank the cord blood, but we did not find anything concrete. And according to the Cord Blood Registry, “for inherited genetic conditions, the child will not be able to use his or her own stem cells. A matched sibling’s stem cells would be the first choice.” If you find any published research showing an extra benefit for cord blood banking with dwarfism, please do let us know so we can spread the word!

Reasons for Storing Cord Blood

Cord Blood is what remains in the umbilical cord after it has been cut during delivery. This blood is supposed to contain stem cells that can be used for a variety of medical treatments. Unfortunately, there is only one chance in a person’s lifetime to store this blood, and that is right after their birth. According to the Cord Blood Registry, some cancers, blood disorders, immune disorders, and metabolic disorders can be treated with cord blood or other stem cells such as bone marrow.

Cost of Storing Cord Blood

The various cord blood registries have different pricing structures, but last we checked the cost was around $2,000 for initial processing and $125 a year for storage. The registries are now able to store cord blood and tissue which costs about $3,000 for initial processing and $250 a year. There are substantial discounts available if you prepay, but 25 years of blood storage will still run you over $2,000 in addition to the initial cost (and $5,000 for blood plus tissue).

Cord Blood for Genetic Testing

For our second child, our geneticist gave us a great suggestion we’d like to pass along. We were planning to run a genetic test to check for dwarfism, so she suggested to have our obstetrician pull a couple purple-top tubes from the cord blood right after delivery. Since pseudoachondroplasia does not show up until the second or third year of age, we wanted to run the test so we’d know for sure if the gene was passed on.  We wanted to minimize the number of times our daughter would be poked for a blood draw and using the cord blood prevented yet another painful poke. We wouldn’t raise our child any differently based upon the result, but we felt it was worthwhile to know early that way we could better plan for her future and health care.

The Difficult Decision

Most likely you will be faced with one or more brochures from the various cord blood registries at your obstetrician’s office. Some of the companies even offer free gift cards for talking to a representative on the phone. In the end, we decided against storing cord blood for both our children. The cost was definitely a factor, but if we encountered further evidence that the blood would most likely be useful we might have been swayed the other way.

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