Cord Blood: To Bank or Not to Bank?

Whether or not to bank your baby’s cord blood is an important decision to make during your wife’s pregnancy. Here’s what you should consider.

by Daddy MD Guides brand manager Wyatt Myers

Dads-to-be have a lot of important decisions to make. Everything from setting up the crib to choosing which car seat to buy, to painting the nursery needs to be puzzled out— and in the next eight to nine months!

It’s a lot of newfound pressure, to be sure. But one decision that every expecting dad needs to add to his decision list is whether or not to bank his baby’s cord blood. You need to make this decision before your baby’s birth, because the blood is collected and stored immediately after birth. That means the kit has to be with you during the delivery if you are planning to bank your baby’s cord blood.

Making the decision. If you’re on the fence about collecting your newborn’s cord blood, here’s the reality: There are a whole lot of very good reasons to choose to collect, and not a lot of good reasons not to.

“Cord blood has multiple uses,” says David T Harris, PhD, a professor of immunology at the University of Arizona. “It can be used for transplants to treat a variety of blood diseases, as well as for regenerative medicine to treat conditions such as cerebral palsy, type I diabetes, hearing loss, and traumatic brain injury. There is only one chance to collect cord blood, and that is at the time of birth of the child.”

Daniel Roshan, MD, an assistant professor in the division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, equates cord blood banking to an insurance policy. “My opinion is that future therapy will be via stem cells and gene therapy,” he says. “Banking cord blood is like a life insurance you pay all your life. Hopefully you don’t use it, but when you need it, it’s priceless. There are many living individuals who would not be alive today without stem cell therapy.”

Dealing with cost. If there’s any drawback to banking cord blood, it’s the cost. But banking companies such as Cord Blood Registry (CBR) have helped parents out with this by creating gift registries. With this service, you can encourage friends and loved ones to help you with the cost by making contributions to banking your newborn’s cord blood. CBR’s service is online, which makes it easy for anyone to set up a registry and collect donations toward their baby’s cord blood banking. (For more information, visit CordBlood.com.)

When to make the decision. If you’re interested in banking your child’s cord blood, Dr. Harris says it’s important to not wait until the last moment to make the decision. “The decision needs to be made early during the pregnancy, and during the second trimester is preferable,” he says. “Although cord blood can be collected at the last minute, it’s not recommended. Parents need to inform their caregiver and obtain a collection kit to use.

Once you’ve made the decision, the entire collection process takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.