If you could protect your newborn baby against these diseases in the future, would you do so? This is the option that umbilical cord blood banking, through the potential represented by stem cell treatment, offers to parents.
Today, stem cells have been proven to treat over 80 different diseases. Transplants of stem cells have saved the lives of roughly 20,000 Americans with leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, and several other illnesses. Apart from these, the potential being offered by stem cell research and treatment is also very promising.
Worldwide, there are ongoing clinical trials involving the use of stem cells to treat juvenile diabetes, cerebral palsy, brain injury, stroke and heart disease, liver disease, cartilage regeneration, eye disorders, spinal cord injuries, and auto-immune disorders. Some of the most encouraging results indicate that stem cell treatments are safe and capable of repairing the damage caused by stroke and heart disease. With all these developments, it’s not surprising that 1 in 200 people may benefit from stem cell transplantation in their lifetime.
According to the U.S. National Marrow Donor Program, Cord blood is the most frequently used source of stem cells for pediatric patients today (Figure 1). Apart from being readily available at birth, it is quick, painless, and risk-free for both the mother and the child. Stem cells from cord blood may also be used to treat family members since the chance of locating a cord blood match among related siblings is 60% higher than a bone marrow match, includes fewer complications, and has improved medical outcomes. Additionally, for experimental medicine that makes use of cord blood, the child’s own stem cells are required.
Because of the many advantages and the growing list of diseases that can be treated with stem cells, cord blood banking is now considered by health professionals as an essential part of healthcare, and not just as a medical option.