Sunday, May 3, 2009

To Store or not to Store ...

That is currently our big question. All along we thought that the decision to privately bank the blood from our newborns’ umbilical cord was a no brainer. But now we aren't sure if this is something we should be investing in. We have done some research and have come up with the following list of pros and cons:


1. "Just in Case" - Storing stem cells would provide a type of biological insurance, in case our baby or another family member needed a stem-cell transplant or related therapy in the future. Scientists think stem cells may hold the key to treatments and even cures for Par.kinson's, dia,betes and a range of other diseases. And stem-cell transplants are already used to treat some can.cers, and immune, and blood disorders. Wouldn't we want our babies to have their own ready supply of perfectly matched stem cells, just in case? Of course. What parent wouldn't?


1. Expensive - blood collection fees typically range between $1,500 and $2,500, and storage fees run between $100 and $200 per year. And since this is per child, our initial fees and first year costs for the twins would be close to $5,000. Of course, we'd spend any amount of money to protect our children, but is private banking of cord blood really warranted considering the next few Cons ...?

2. No conclusive proof - much of the stem cell promise is still more theoretical than practical. Research has found only a few cases where cord-blood banked "just in case" had actually been used. This is in contrast to the main marketing message of private banks, which promote the idea of children using cells from their own cord blood. Doctors, in fact, won't even use a child's own stem cells for some illnesses, as this could reintroduce the illness into the child's body.

3. Other sources - stem cells can come from other sources, including bone marrow, public cord blood banks and someday possibly even adult cells.

4. Recommendations from the Am.erican Academy of Ped.iatrics and the Am.erican Med.ical Association - both organizations advise against private cord blood banking for most families, as the likelihood of children needing their own banked blood is low. The range of available estimates is from 1:1,000 to 1:200,000. Empirical evidence that children will need their own cord blood for future use is lacking. The exception is when there is a family member who has a current or potential need to undergo a stem-cell transplant. We have a family member with MS, but there is no available research on the benefits of umbilical stem cell transplantation for individuals with MS.

We'd really like to get some of your thoughts/opinions on this topic. Even though our Cons list is much longer than our Pros list, there is still that question of "what if?" that we can't get past. We are hoping someone will say something that will help us with our final decision.

If we do not store our newborn's stem cells for our own use we will most certainly donate it to a public cord-blood bank. Donating to these banks is typically free and the benefits to someone in need can be immeasurable. You can contact the National Marr.ow Do.nor Program at www dot marrow dot org for a list of sites. We wanted to donate to a cord-blood bank specifically dedicated to MS research but as of now we haven't found any sites that are looking for cord blood specifically for MS research.


Pufferfish said...

Thanks for doing all of this research. I now know what I will do if I am in the same situation. I would go with 'no' and donating it to research. For me, the pro's don't outweigh the 'what if's' and there are a lot of cons.
Whew, one more thing I can check out my future check list thanks to the good friends of the blogosphere!

Hope you ladies are enjoying this icky rainy Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Exactly what Puffer said! Thanks for doing the research and for helping us make a decision. It's great to have one less thing to think about.

Eva said...

I really appreciated this post! Thanks for doing all of this reseach and putting it out there. That said, I don't think that Nadia and I would pay for the private cord banking. The evidence is not conclusive enough warrent that expense. Thanks again. xo

Anonymous said...

i think we are going to pass on the private banking, we just cant justify the expense.
love the belly slide show!! :D

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading - I'm not sure what our options are over here but I would have to say from what you've researched it does seem like the cons win. Good luck with your decision though!

Heather said...

The research is great, thanks! I dont think that there is enough research to say , Yes! Store it! I think that the chance of actually needing it is so low, and you could use that chunk of money towards something else that will affect their future for sure. $5,000 is a lot to invest in something that could potentially just sit idel without the chance of getting it back...