Expectant parents often want to know about cord blood and cord tissue. Cord blood banking is a popular choice because it was discovered first. Cord tissue stem cells have been discovered only recently. Research is on regarding their probable use in regenerative therapy in the future. But then the popularity of both seems to be slowly growing, and parents need to know which one to bank for their child.
Cord blood—what you need to know about it—
The blood in the umbilical cord or placenta after the birth of a baby is referred to as cord blood. After the birth of the baby, the cord should be cut as instructed by the doctor. Once cut, there is about 80 – 120 ml of blood left in the umbilical cord, which is then collected for banking.
Although the quantity of collected blood is small, it contains numerous stem cells that can form the immune system and blood. The stem cells present in this blood are extracted, banked, and used for future treatment of diseases.
What you need to know about cord tissue—
The material around the blood vessels in the umbilical cord is referred to as the cord tissue. It acts as insulation for the vessels. After the baby is born, the umbilical cord is cut, and the cord tissue is banked. A person’s nervous system, circulatory tissues, and sensory organs are formed from the cord tissue. It’s actually the stem cells present in cord tissue that is banked for future treatment of diseases.
What it all means—
Our body parts require blood to receive nutrition and oxygen. Cord blood gives oxygen and nutrients along with other life-supporting substances for the baby in the mother’s womb.
Blood is composed of red and white cells, stem cells, and platelets. Cord blood is different from the blood of the mother in that it is rich in hematopoietic stem cells, which form the immune system and blood. It is these hematopoietic stem cells that are stored when cord blood is banked.
Cord tissue is clear in appearance and Jelly like in texture. It contains stem cells, fats, and white cells. It is rich in endothelial and epithelial stem cells. Besides, it contains mesenchymal stem cells, which can turn into tissues that the circulatory system, sensory organs, and nervous system are made of.
What diseases do they treat?
Since the types of stem cells present in cord blood and cord tissue are different, they are ideal for treating different health issues. While cord tissue contains mesenchymal stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells are found in cord blood. Interestingly, both are useful and show potential as treatments for different diseases. But then the diseases they cure are not the same.
The medical fraternity has been using cord blood for over 25 years now. Although both cord tissue and blood are valuable sources of stem cells, only the latter has the FDA’s approval to use in routine treatments. It may be used in treating anaemia’s, leukaemia, lymphomas, and inherited metabolic diseases.
Researchers are conducting clinical trials to make sure cord blood can be used for treating more serious health conditions like diabetes, cerebral palsy, and stroke.
Clinical trials are also underway to determine if mesenchymal stem cells can be used like those found in the cord tissue. The results of such studies seem promising. They have the potential for treating kidney and heart disease, autoimmune disease, and multiple sclerosis.
It’s best to bank both—
Over 80 health conditions can be treated with cord blood. Clinical trials linked to the usefulness of cord blood in the treatment of diseases like autism are also underway. Hence, it’s reasonable to expect that cord blood tissue will have more extensive use in the medical field in the future than it currently has. After all, it has immense potential for the treatment of medical conditions that are considered difficult to treat or untreatable today.
Parents should become more prudent, and they should look at the benefits that stem cell banking can provide in the future. Since all types of stem cells are different, both cord tissue and cord blood can prove lifesaving for a family. Your doctor won’t take more than a minute to collect the two.
Now, the biggest question that arises here is how to decide if you should go for stem cell banking. Well, it’s not possible to make this decision without talking to a doctor. So, the best bet would be to approach your doctor for guidance in this regard. The hospital where you intend to deliver your baby might or might not provide stem cell banking provisions, but that doesn’t mean your doctor shouldn’t know about it. In case they don’t know, there are online consultation forums you can look for. Alternatively, you can talk to other expectant parents or approach experienced people over cord blood banking discussion forums. Regardless of the source of information, you can find valuable inputs to be able to make an informed decision in this respect.