Guest Editorial: Cord Blood Awareness

By Joan Williams, Director of The Center for Stem Cell Awareness (http://www.babyslifeline.com/)

Cord Blood Awareness. This important topic should be on the mind of all expectant parents and their health care professionals. Yet most expectant parents are not aware of the potential that cord blood offers their family.  Most health care professionals are focused on the health and wellness of the mother and baby, not on future potential needs of the baby in times of illness.

We started saving our children’s cord blood over eleven years ago. Unfortunately, we had a member of our family diagnosed with Leukemia. Leukemia was a disease that cord blood stem cells had the ability to reverse. We didn’t give a second thought to privately banking our children’s cord blood. However, eleven years is a very long time and the area of medicine referred to as Regenerative Medicine has grown quite dramatically.

Today cord blood stem cell treatments have seen the reversal of Cerebral Palsy in children. Children have had their cord blood used to return their eyesight. Oxygen deprivation at birth has been reversed. Siblings and family members have had their lives saved using cord blood.

But what is cord blood? Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a baby is born. It contains a rich source of stem cells. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are non-controversial. Unlike embryonic stem cells, these cells are completely natural.  They are the cells that all your baby’s cells stem from.  They have the potential to not only treat but to eradicate over 80 different diseases.  The medical term for cord blood stem cells is pluripotent, meaning they have the potential to become any cell in the body.

Yet in reality, expectant parents are somewhat overwhelmed with the idea of having a baby.  There are so many decisions to make especially if it’s their first baby. Coupled with the fact that there is little to no education given to expectant parents on the importance of storing their baby’s cord blood. It’s no wonder that right now in the United States only 5% of expectant parents store their baby’s cord blood, which means that 95% of the cord blood stem cells are discarded, just thrown away.

Cord Blood stem cells can be banked either privately or publicly. Expectant parents can choose to privately bank their child’s cord blood for a fee. They then have the exclusive rights to those cells. Expectant parents can also choose to bank their baby’s cord blood publically and just like donating bone marrow the stem cells would then be available to anyone that matched and would need them.

Ten years ago the statistics showed that a person had a 1 in 10,000 chance of needing a cord blood stem cell transfusion.  The most recent study showed the ratio has moved to a 1 in 217 chance. It is not hard to imagine how that number will continue to show the increased chance for cord blood stem cell use to be in the 1 in 100 range.

By saving your child’s cord blood at delivery expectant parents are electing the right to use these cells in the treatment of numerous life changing and in some cases terminal illnesses. No one is completely sure why these cord blood cells can change the outcome of numerous disease processes. Physicians and scientists involved in the study and use of cord blood stem cells simply state that they do.

These cord blood cells are like a medical insurance policy. The difference is that these cord blood samples when stored offer the potential to reverse a medical condition when all other resources are exhausted. To date there have not been any serious complications that has arisen from using cord blood.

There are over 2,900 clinical trials going on in the United States.  Almost every top medical facility in the country is working in the field. Some of the diseases being treated and studied worldwide are: Autism, Alzheimer’s, Heart valves, Multiple Cancers, Multiple Blood disorders , Paralysis, Closed head trauma, Type 1 diabetes, Vision disorders, stroke, Learning defects, Parkinson’s, Spinal Cord injury, Deafness, Myocardial infarction, Muscular dystrophy, Crohn’s disease and other Autoimmune diseases.

This is why we saved out children’s cord blood. We think it is an important topic that expectant parents need to hear. That why we started our organization, The Center for Stemcell Awareness.  Our goal is to provide a resource for expectant families and their physicians to draw upon.

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