Cord blood is the blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta after a baby’s birth. Cord blood has the same properties as regular blood, white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. It also is rich in stem cells that can be used to treat hematopoietic and genetic disorders.
The cord blood is extracted from the cord after it is cut from the baby. Only a small amount of stem cells are contained in the cord itself as compared to the amount in the placenta; though the stem cells that are collected from the cord are very valuable. The amount collected from the cord is usually not enough to treat an adult patient.
The placenta, containing the riches source of stem cells, is also harvested. After the placenta is inspected to make sure all of it has come out of the uterus, the blood is extracted. We have in our site an excursus about the probable effects of supplements in the pregnant woman.
After the cord blood is collected, it is sent to a cord blood bank. There are both public and private cord blood banks. Public cord blood banks store cord blood for public use. Private cord blood banks store cord blood for individual family use. Public cord blood banking is free. Private cord blood banking cost the family an initial fee for processing ans storage and a yearly storage fee. The FDA regulates both private and public cord blood banks under Title 21 Section 1271 of the Code of Federal regulations.
There are also two voluntary accreditation boards that banks can register with; Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, also known as Fact, and the American Association of Blood Banks, also known as AABB. Each organization has a searchable database, accessible through there websites.
There is some controversy surrounding the collection of cord blood and storing of cord blood. The controversy is around the use of private vs public cord blood banks. It is not about whether we should or shouldn’t store cord blood for future use. You can learn more on our post, the pros and cons of cord blood banking.