Cord Blood Encyclopedia

What is umbilical cord blood?

The term "cord blood" is used to describe the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and the placenta after the birth of a baby. Up until recently this blood was discarded as medical waste. Cord blood contains stem cells that may be cryopreserved for later use in medical therapies, such as stem cell transplantation or new emerging therapies.

How many diseases can be treated with cord blood?

There are about 80 diseases where transplants of either bone marrow or cord blood are accepted by the medical community as a standard therapy. We list these standard therapies on our diseases treated web page. Some of these diseases are well known, such as leukemia, but others are so rare that they only afflict a few children per year.

It is more meaningful to know that, since the first cord blood transplant in 1988, there have been over 30,000 cord blood transplants around the world (ref). At present there are a few thousand cord blood transplants each year (WMDA). Like bone marrow transplants, cord blood transplants are used to treat cancers, blood disorders, and genetic diseases; in addition cord blood can treat metabolic disorders.

In the united States, the odds are 1 in 217 over a lifetime that a person will have a transplant for one of the 80 diseases (ref). Patients who are not Caucasian or who have mixed racial heritage are more likely to receive a cord blood transplant instead of a bone marrow transplant.

It is also meaningful to know that cord blood is an emerging therapy for children who have acquired neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy. Published study results have shown that cord blood is effective as a therapy for cerebral palsy, which effects 1 in 303 eight year old children in the United States (CDC).

Are the stem cells in cord blood "embryonic"?

NO! There is no ethical controversy regarding cord blood stem cells.

What is the public versus private banking debate?

Cord blood can either be donated to a public bank for the benefit of patients who are searching for donors, or it can be stored privately for the baby's family. At this time, parents in most countries must choose between these two options, they cannot do both at once. Nowadays the lines between the types of cord blood banks and the kinds of therapies that they offer are becoming blurred. Parent's Guide to Cord Blood Foundation strives to represent all groups in the cord blood community and to build bridges between them.

What is the most important thing to know about cord blood?

Umbilical cord blood has medical value because it is one of the richest sources of stem cells in the human body, but it can only be harvested at birth. All expectant parents should be educated about cord blood, and should consider their options to donate or privately save their baby's cord blood.

Information resources

logo   Brochures for parents are available in multiple languages
logo   Reasons to bank cord blood explained
logo   FAQ page answers Frequently Asked Questions by category
logo   Odds of using cord blood summarized in tables
logo   Types of Cord Blood Banks are pictured in a flow chart
logo   Lists of cord blood family banks worldwide (and price tables by country)
logo   Maps of cord blood family banks worldwide
logo   List of cord blood public banks accepting donations in North America
logo   Map of cord blood donation spots in North America
logo   Newsletters on medical and scientific developments
logo hosts education hand-outs for physicians