What Is Umbilical Cord Cells & Should I Hold It for Future Uses?
Created by Janaki Srinivasan Updated on Feb 18, 2020
The umbilical cord, also called the navel string, connects the developing embryo with the placenta. Through the umbilical vein, the unborn baby draws oxygenated and nutrient-rich food from the placenta. Did you know that the fetal heart pumps back deoxygenated, nutrient-depleted blood back to the placenta through the umbilical arteries?
The umbilical cord is made up of tissues and contains blood. Both are a rich source of stem cells. Earlier the cord blood was disposed of as waste but now studies show that they are capable of regenerating healthy blood and immune systems.
Is It Important to Hold the Umbilical Cord?
What are the benefits of umbilical cord preservation? Let's take a look at some of the uses of the cord blood so that as mothers-to-be you can take an informed decision and understand whether you really need to go for stem cell banking or not.
- After the birth of the baby, traces of cord blood are left in the umbilical cord and placenta. These can be easily collected without much risk to the mother and the baby. It contains a rare type of blood found in the bone marrow – also known as hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). HSCs are known to make every type of cell found in the blood, RBC, WBC, and platelets. Therefore, they can be used for bone marrow transplants to treat diseases related to blood
- In fact, some studies even suggest that they contain other types of stem cells that belong to the nerves. But there is no confirmation to prove it and are not widely accepted among scientists. (Source)
- Umbilical cord cells are also beneficial in treating leukemia –acute, chronic and juvenile or blood cancer as they are commonly referred to
- These stem cells can treat Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the leucocytes
- It can be used for other blood-related disorders in the body such as anemia, sickle cell anemia, Beta Thalassemia, any normal or severe immunodeficiency, multiple myeloma, etc
- It can even treat inherited immune and metabolic disorders such as Hurler syndrome, Hunter syndrome, Osteoporosis, Lesch Nyhan syndrome, etc
- Besides, it is also known to treat tumors that affect various parts of the body such as Neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, and medulloblastoma
Though highly beneficial, the awareness of the stem cells from the umbilical cord blood is not as widespread as it should be. However, many companies are coming forward and making mothers-to-be aware and educating them on the need for cord blood collection as a powerful tool to save their children in the future. Yet, in many cases, this useful lifesaving resource gets thrown away after the birth of the baby.
What Does the Future Hold in Store?
Right now, several trials are on to understand and expand the potential of umbilical cord stem cells to cure neurological conditions, such as autism, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, hearing loss, cardiovascular diseases, HIV, but there is no conclusive result to prove their effectiveness. Scientists are of the opinion that more research is needed to understand how cord cells behave and how they might be useful.
Should I Store My Baby's Umbilical Cord Cells for Future Use?
Whether you want to store umbilical cord cells or not lies purely in your hands. Yes, the prices to store the cells are quite high and there are few selected companies in the country, which offer the service. So do exercise caution and speak with your doctor first before taking any decision.
1. nhs.uk › Common health questions › What is the umbilical cord? - NHS UK
2. mayoclinic.org › umbilical-cord › Do's & Don'ts for Parents - Mayo Clinic
3. americanpregnancy.org › Baby Placenta & Umbilical Cord - American Pregnancy
4. eurostemcell.org › Cord blood stem cells: Current Uses & Future challenges - Euro Stem Cell
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