Would you bank the umbilical cord blood of your newborn?
The controversial practice has been getting more air time this fall, thanks to the endorsement of reality show stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic, who banked their newborn’s cord blood.
Many celebrity endorsements should come with a wink and a nod, and this is no exception. The Rancics—stars of the show Giuliana & Bill—are paid spokespersons for the Cord Blood Registry, the nation’s largest for-profit stem cell bank.
But cord blood banking may be worth considering—despite the nearly $5,000 price tag (for harvesting and years of storage).
Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells unique to each individual, which can help generate treatments later in life. Blood disorders like leukemia are already being treated with these stem cells.
What’s the downside? While some companiespromise that stem cells can treat over 80 conditions, there are no guarantees. If your child develops a genetic illness as an adult, her stem cells might contain the same abnormality.
Also, researchers aren’t sure how long these banked cells are viable.
The Upside: Banking cord blood may look iffy now, but it could pay off down the line. Clinical trials using stem cells as a treatment for autism, cerebral palsy, and more are underway.