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Importance of cord blood banking as part of your birth plan

CReATe Fertility Centre specializes in helping couples who are struggling with infertility to conceive a baby. For some parents their pregnancy will present new challenges, and in some cases the baby will arrive before the pregnancy has run its full 40 week course.

About 1 of every 8 babies is born premature, which means before 37 weeks of gestation. In almost all countries with reliable data, preterm birth rates are increasing. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born prematurely every year.

Premature babies are not just smaller versions of full term babies. The final weeks of pregnancy are important for the development of the newborn’s brain and nervous system. Children born prematurely later experience a higher incidence of developmental delays and learning disabilities than children born full term.

Importance of cord blood banking as part of your birth plan

Fortunately, new therapies with stem cells are offering the potential to cure or substantially ameliorate some of the medical complications associated with prematurity. At the time of birth, your umbilical cord blood and cord tissue are rich sources of stem cells that can be saved in case they are later needed for therapy.

One example of a medical condition that is often associated with prematurity and that can be treated with cord blood stem cells is cerebral palsy. When a baby experiences oxygen deprivation or bleeding in the brain, either in the womb or at birth, he or she may later develop a pattern of motor and cognitive impairments known as cerebral palsy. It is a lifelong condition that is ten times higher in children born prematurely, versus full term births.

Research pioneered at Duke University Medical Center suggests that cord blood stem cells have the ability to help children with cerebral palsy. Hundreds of children with this condition have traveled to Duke from around the world for therapy, and many report remarkable improvements. Parents undergoing a high-risk pregnancy should seriously consider adding cord blood banking to their birth plan, in case their baby arrives prematurely and exhibits symptoms of cerebral palsy.

Can the promise of stem cells be harnessed for premature babies? Some doctors have worried that very small babies do not have enough blood in their umbilical cord for therapeutic purposes. However, a “premie-cord-blood” study recently completed at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns found that premies actually have a higher stem cell density in their cord blood than full term babies! This study demonstrated that cord blood and cord tissue could be harvested under the conditions surrounding a preterm birth and the stem cell dose was more than adequate for therapy.

Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation strives to help parents learn about the new medical therapies offered by cord blood and to navigate the decision to save or donate your baby’s cord blood. Check out our March 2014 newsletter that is themed on prematurity, or our Feb. 2014 newsletter about cord blood therapy for cerebral palsy.

CReATe Cord Blood Bank is one of the supporters of Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation. They can help you to protect your baby by storing stem cells harvested at the time of birth.