Umbilical cord blood has been used successfully to treat a number of genetic, blood, and cancer conditions in children such as leukemia and immune disorders. Some parents are choosing to store their baby’s cord blood for possible future use. However, there are no accurate statistics on the likelihood of children someday needing their own stored cells.
In response, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages storing cord blood at private banks for later personal or family use as a general “insurance policy.” Rather, they encourage families to donate their newborn’s cord blood, which is normally discarded at birth, to cord blood banks (if accessible in their area) for other individuals in need. (You should be aware, though, that your baby’s cord blood would not be available as a stem cell source if your child developed leukemia later in life.)
Storing your child’s cord blood is certainly an issue that you should discuss with your obstetrician and/or pediatrician before your baby is born, not during the emotionally stressful time of delivery. She may refer you to cord blood banks in your community. You will need to register ahead of time so that the appropriate collection kit can be sent to you or your obstetrician to be used at your delivery.