Have you ever heard of umbilical cord blood or the advertisement of its preservation and later use when needed?
Umbilical cord blood is blood that remains in the attached umbilical cord and placenta after a baby is born. Cord blood contains stem cells. These are cells that can grow into specific kinds of cells in the body. These cells may be used to treat some diseases, like anemia, blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas, as well as certain disorders of the blood and immune systems.
In advertisements, we are being told multiple dangerous diseases can be cured using cord blood at later stages of life.
The customers are hugely charged by cord blood banks for the storage of the blood.
A major limitation of cord blood storage is that there is no scientific evidence if the cells will remain viable after forty or fifty years of donation. Customers are neither aware of in what condition the blood is being stored. Moreover, there is no guarantee that a company will survive for that long time. Thus, for public banking, we should be aware of whether the delivery hospital participates in a cord blood banking program.
We should also know, in some cases stored cord blood may not be suitable for use in the child who donated it. For instance, some diseases or genetic defects cannot be cured with cord blood that contains the same disease or defect.
Some parents may consider using a private bank as a form of “insurance” against future illness. But we should remember that, currently, the only approved use of cord blood is for treatment of blood-related illnesses.
So, be sceptical of claims that cord blood is a miracle cure—it is not.
Article by Moumita Mazumdar