Anatomy & Organs

Umbilical cord blood – structure, function & diseases

Cord blood

The ten most important questions and answers about umbilical cord blood

For some time now, specialized blood banks have been offering expectant parents the opportunity to store stem cells from umbilical cord blood. It is undoubtedly a sensible undertaking to collect and store the umbilical cord blood after delivery, as it can be of inestimable value for the baby later in life. Before making the final decision, however, it is advisable to clarify some important questions about umbilical cord blood and its actual benefits. Parents-to-be often only then realize the purpose for which the blood is taken and what far-reaching effects it can have on their own lives.

How is umbilical cord blood collected?

Before the blood is drawn from the umbilical cord, the baby is born completely calm. It does not matter whether it is a caesarean section or a natural birth, because the umbilical cord blood is usable in all cases. According to Kidsgo , it is even possible to have the blood drawn after a water birth.

The doctor treating you needs a special set consisting of a few utensils to take the blood. Only after the umbilical cord is cut off is the blood in the clamped umbilical cord fed into a sterile bag via a sharp needle. Immediately afterwards, the blood is transported to a specialized blood bank.

Is the removal dangerous?

The removal is completely painless and there are no health risks.

Are there specific requirements for storage?

After the umbilical cord blood has been transported to the blood bank, the blood is stored in a special way. Here are a few important points to keep in mind to ensure the durability and integrity of the stem cells:

  • Before storage, the umbilical cord blood is tested and examined under strict hygienic conditions.
  • The isolated stem cells are stored at a temperature of around -195 degrees Celsius.
  • All relevant data relating to the properties of the blood and stem cells are documented in writing.

How long does umbilical cord blood last?

It is now clear that stem cells stored correctly can last for many decades and can therefore still be useful to their owners in adulthood. This makes it possible to choose from different time models for private storage.

Against which diseases can stem cells from umbilical cord blood help?

Even after many years of research, the healing potential of umbilical cord blood has not been fully explored. The fact is, however, that there is a large number of diseases in which the administration of umbilical cord blood or stem cells can heal them.

illnessstate of research
leukemiaEspecially in children suffering from leukemia, the chances of healing with umbilical cord blood are very high. In adults, the number of cells is not always sufficient, which is why more than one donor is needed.
autismThere are now some studies underway to treat autism with cord blood. However, concrete results on this topic are not yet available.
DiabetesIn a study, patients with type 1 diabetes were able to achieve a significant improvement in their condition through treatment with umbilical cord blood.
Cerebral palsyRecent studies have succeeded in alleviating the effects of this disease with the administration of umbilical cord blood.

Based on the four diseases mentioned, it becomes clear that umbilical cord blood plays a very important role in medicine. After all, research in this area is constantly evolving, which is why other diseases have a chance of being treated with umbilical cord blood in the future. Among other things, strokes , Alzheimer’s , multiple sclerosis and heart attacks are also on the list of potentially curable diseases.

Is umbilical cord blood useful only for its former donor?

Not only your own child can benefit from the stem cells from his umbilical cord blood. So it is quite possible that sick family members can be healed by the stem cells. In addition, cord blood that is not privately stored but publicly donated is useful to any suitable recipient. For this reason, the stem cell data is very precisely documented, recorded and made available internationally.

Is the withdrawal always subject to a fee?

Only the private storage of the umbilical cord blood incurs costs. The amount of this depends on the duration of the storage and of course on the choice of provider. However, there are two cases in which parents do not have to pay for cord blood storage:

The public donation benefits the general public, which is why it is completely free for parents. For this purpose, the umbilical cord blood is taken in the clinic and then sent to a public blood bank. There is a constant comparison of the genetic data of all potential recipients and as soon as a suitable person is found, the umbilical cord blood can be used for them.

The directed donation is a special case in the field of umbilical cord blood collection, because the recipient of the blood is already known at the time of birth. This can be, for example, a sibling who can be cured of a serious illness through the administration of umbilical cord blood. Since the removal in this case is specifically for a healing purpose, health insurance companies cover all costs incurred.

What are the differences between a public donation & private storage?

The most important difference is not that there are no costs for a public donation compared to private storage. The fact that your own child has no right to its own umbilical cord blood is all the more important.So if it needs its own stem cells in the future, these may already have been used for another donor. In principle, however, this is not always dramatic, because the administration of one’s own stem cells does not make sense for all diseases. For example, some diseases such as leukemia can only be cured with donated umbilical cord blood from another person, since one’s own stem cells most likely contain the disposition for leukemia from the start.

Is the umbilical cord blood examined before storage?

A thorough examination of the umbilical cord blood is usually carried out. The blood is also tested for pathogens .

The number of stem cells is also determined and there is a precise documentation of the genetic key points, which can be used to ensure the suitability of a later recipient.

Can any umbilical cord blood that has been removed be used for storage?

It is not always possible to isolate sufficient stem cells from the umbilical cord blood that is sent in. In such a case, or if the blood is infected with dangerous pathogens, storage does not take place.

Lisa Newlon
 | Website

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.