Umbilical Cord Blood

Should you store it?

photo credit:

#13 Small Talk 2019

During the joyful time of your pregnancy there is so much to
prepare for…getiing the nursery fitted out, buying a baby car seat, a stroller
and a cot. Another thing to consider is storing your baby’s umbilical cord
blood. This blood used to be just thrown away after the birth but many parents
are now having it stored for the future health of their child. The question is,
should you?

Let’s look at some of the reasons which may make you wish to
store your baby’s cord blood:

What can it be used

Well, umbilical cord fluid is jam-packed with stem cells and
these can be used to treat a variety of diseases such as cancer, anaemia and
some auto immune disorders which prevent the body from defending itself.

Apart from being easy to collect, cord blood stem cells
outnumber those found in bone marrow by about 10 times! They rarely carry any
infectious diseases and are less likely to be rejected than adult stem cells.

So, those are pretty good reasons, not so? But how is it

How do you get it?

Once you tell your doctor that you intend to have your
baby’s umbilical cord blood stored, once you have given birth, your doctor will
clamp the umbilical cord in two places about 5cm apart before cutting it. The
doctor then draws at least 40ml of blood from the cord, using a syringe. The
blood is placed in a sealed bag and sent to a lab or a cord blood bank for
testing and storage. The process is painless for both baby and mom and takes
just a few minutes to accomplish. Mom’s blood may also be taken if the cord
blood bank has requested this.

Where is it stored?

  • In South Africa, there are currently two companies offering cord blood banking.
  • According to CryoSave stem cell storage is affordable and they offer flexible, interest-free payment options. They say that it will cost the equivalent of 1.5x family restaurant  dinners, 2x trips to the nail salon and 3xbottles of wine!!!
  • Next Biosciences offer plans to store for periods of 5,10 or 20 years and currently charge about R350 per annum – a fee they say will be adjusted annually for inflation. They say the fee will be market related and that should you at any time wish to move to an alternative cord blood bank you can do so.

How long can you store the cord blood?

The blood is
cryopreserved and stored at -196 deg C where theoretically all ageing is stopped.
However, the longest period which cord blood has been stored, thawed and tested
for viability is only 23 years.

Is it worth storing
your baby’s cord blood?

Apparently cord blood is very
rarely used. In addition, even should the person develop a disease later on in
life and if the disease is caused by a genetic mutation then the stem cells
would carry the same mutation, thereby making its use of no value to the person

In the USA, it is recommended that cord blood should only be
stored if there is a sibling with a medical condition who could benefit from
the stem cells and most families are encouraged to donate stem cells to a
public bank to help others.


Should you decide you do want to store your baby’s cord
blood it is best not to leave it to a last minute decision when you are in the
labour ward! You should coordinate with whichever cord blood bank you have
chosen before the birth of your baby so that everything can be organised well
before the birth.

We all want to give the best possible life to our children.
It seems to me that if you can afford it, and you and your partner have had
genetic screening to show that neither you nor your partner carry any genetic
mutations on your DNA, it may be worth considering having your baby’s umbilical
cord blood stored with a reputable company.

Yours in lifestyle newborn photography


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