Many parents are beginning to realise the potential benefits of cord blood banking (CBB). This has become an important discussion of the birth plan. You may have heard of some common beliefs about CBB. Let's look at the 5 most common myths!
Myth#1: My child can only use his own cord blood for himself.
There are many reported stem cell transplants using one's own stem cells (AKA autologous stem cell transplants) internationally. These are mainly performed to treat non-genetic diseases. The biggest advantage of autologous transplant is the low risk of tissue rejection.
However, it is important to note that your baby's precious cord blood stem cells may be used for his/her sibling (if it matches) when needed. This is known as allogeneic transplant. Currently, cord blood transplant is now a standard treatment for many diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassemia.
Myth#2: It is easy to find a bone marrow donor when the need arises.
Bone marrow do contain many stem cells. However, there are 3 main advantages of cord blood stem cells compared to a bone marrow donor's stem cells. Firstly, CCB is easy and risk-free to you and your baby, while extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow is invasive. Secondly, cord blood ensures an available supply of stored stem cells when needed. A bone marrow donor search is costly and time-consuming, especially during the critical period. Lastly, cord blood stem cells have a higher potential to transform into other cell types.
Myth#3: Cord blood can only treat blood disorders.
Currently, there are prospective clinical trials using cord blood stem cells to treat autism. In a recent US clinical trial by Duke University, significant improvements in social communication and language expression were observed in 25 autistic children after transfusion of autologous cord blood stem cells. A similar trial is on-going in Singapore.
Myth #4: The chance of using the stored cord blood is small.
Studies show that 1 in 217 persons may need stem cells for treatment in his/her lifetime and 1 in 3 persons may benefit from the regenerative medicine therapy in the future. Currently, there are about 80 diseases that can be potentially treated via cord blood stem cell transplants including certain types of cancers, genetic diseases and blood disorders. There are over 40,000 stem cells transplant using cord blood stem cells done globally.
Myth #5: All cord blood banks are the same.
Consider your family cord blood bank carefully as they do vary in quality, experience and technology to collect, process, and store your baby’s cord blood. It is important to choose a trusted family cord blood bank that has received international accreditations, such as Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) and American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). Also, do discuss with your doctor and research on the cord bank's proven track record of successfully transplanted patients.