As a parent, your top priority would be to do everything possible to keep your little one safe and healthy. Most parents protect their child’s wellbeing with preventive protection like vaccinations and health checks, as well as safeguarding their child financially with health insurance. However, they often overlook this key protection that could safeguard their child’s health in the long run.
With the birth of your child, you have the unique opportunity to offer them a lifetime of protection with cord blood banking. By choosing to store your baby’s precious umbilical cord stem cells, your baby will be gifted with access to potential treatments in the fields of regenerative therapy.
What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting your baby’s cord blood and storing it in cryogenic tanks until a release is requested by the family. Cord blood is a rich source of lifesaving Haematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) which have the potential to differentiate into different types of cells as they are in their naïve and most primitive form. Therefore, these cells are faster in generating healthy cells and are also more tolerant to tissue mismatches which may happen in transplants involving a donor.
Why Should I Store My Baby’s Cord Blood?
With a single decision, you can now gift your child added health protection as cord blood can be used to treat over 80 diseases¹ such as leukaemia, lymphoma and thalassaemia, just to name a few. Cord blood stem cells have also been used successfully in clinical trials to treat conditions that currently have no known cure, such as Cerebral Palsy, Type 1 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, thus bringing families a newfound sense of hope in improving their loved one’s quality of life.
Choosing to store your baby’s cord blood guarantees a readily available supply of lifesaving stem cells for the whole family should the need ever arise, providing much assurance during a time-critical situation.
An increasing number of parents are also choosing to store their baby’s cord lining due to its potential uses. Cord lining is a sheet-like membrane found in the outermost layer of the umbilical cord that contains a high concentration of 2 types of stem cells, namely Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) and Cord Lining Epithelial Stem Cells (CLEpSCs).
Cord lining stem cells are the ‘infrastructure-forming’ building blocks in the human body, that have shown great potential in aiding the repair of injured tissues and organs. They also have immune-modulating characteristics, therefore, matching of stem cells between the donor and the patient is not required, making them suitable for both your baby and other members of the family.
By choosing to store a combination of HSCs, MSCs and CLEpSCs, you are availing your children and family to be part of a medical revolution with access to the growing applications of stem cells and the therapeutic potential they hold.
What Are The Benefits Of Storing Your Baby's Cord Blood?
Guaranteed match for autologous transplants
Cord blood stem cells are a guaranteed match for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual). As cord blood stem cells are more primitive and naïve in nature, they do not require stringent matching and have a greater ability to convert themselves into other types of cells that the body requires.
Up to 75% chance of genetic match for siblings
Storing your baby’s cord blood can also benefit the whole family as siblings have up to a 75% chance of being a partial genetic match3. Using stem cells from cord blood also minimises the risk of Graft vs Host Disease (GvHD) for autologous transplants (where the donor and recipient are the same individual) as compared to unrelated donor transplants. GvHD is a condition where the transplanted tissue cells (the graft) sees the patient’s own tissue (the host) as foreign and attacks them.
Over 80% of cord blood usage for regenerative medicine
Regenerative medicine could be a game-changer. More than 80% of the cord blood transplants used by families have been for regenerative medicine applications like Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer’s and many more4.
Clinical trials are one of the key driving forces to explore the effectiveness of umbilical cord blood as a source of treatment for conditions that currently have no known cure.
Safe, quick and painless process for both mother and baby
Collecting your baby’s cord blood is a risk and pain-free process for both mother and baby. After the birth of your baby, your OBGYN doctor will cut and clamp the umbilical cord, after which he/she will begin the cord blood collection.
💡 DID YOU KNOW?
Autism was once thought to be untreatable.
A recent clinical trial held by Dr Joanne Kurtzberg of Duke University had ground-breaking results when umbilical cord blood was used as a form of treatment for Autism. The trial revealed significant improvements in social communication and expressive language in all 25 children5.
Cord blood has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and repair the immune systems of patients with Autism to improve language and behaviour6. In 2019, KK Women's and Children's Hospital also embarked on its first-ever clinical trial for the treatment of Autism in children using autologous umbilical cord blood reinfusion.
What To Consider When Choosing A Family Cord Blood Bank?
A family cord blood bank stores the cord blood unit for your family’s exclusive use, and it is usually released at no cost to the parents. Storing your baby’s cord blood guarantees a readily available medical resource for your child or family whenever the need arises in a time-critical situation. This will reduce the cost and time to conduct a national or international search for a matched donor.
There is only one chance to collect your baby’s cord blood: minutes after birth. It is important to go with the right partner and parents should consider these 6 factors when choosing a family cord blood bank.
Choose a family cord blood bank that has a long-standing establishment as it assures parents that their baby’s precious lifesaving stem cells are stored with a trusted and reliable partner who will be with them for the long haul.
A helpful tip will be to go with the largest family cord blood bank in Singapore, as they have over 20 years of experience under their belt. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, an independent resource and non-profit foundation, has also ranked the Top 10 Family Cord Blood Banks worldwide, and a quick search can tell you if any of these are in Singapore. Another safe bet would be to consider how long the family cord blood bank has been around.
💡 DID YOU KNOW?
Cordlife just celebrated their 20th birthday in the month of May!
There are only eight family cord blood banks worldwide that are internationally dual certified by international bodies, such as, the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) or Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). Consider family cord blood banks that have been accredited by AABB or FACT as these accreditations ensure that the family cord blood bank adheres to the highest quality standards when it comes to the handling, processing and storing of your baby’s cord blood through regular and rigorous audits.
Transplant Track Record
Another important consideration is the proven transplant track record of your chosen family cord blood bank. A quick tip is to check if the family cord blood bank has released numerous cord blood units for clinical trials such as the ongoing trial conducted by KKH in Singapore for the treatment of Autism. This is an indication that the family cord blood bank is experienced in successfully releasing cord blood stem cells for transplants. It also confirms that the cord blood stem cells stored under their care are in accordance with the highest standards and remains viable for transplantation.
Additional Service Offerings
Besides storing cord blood stem cells, check if your chosen family cord blood bank offers additional services as it would give you access to more medical options for your child and family members. One of the family cord blood banks in Singapore is also a patented technology provider in the processing and storage of cord lining stem cells, which contains 2 types of cells found in the umbilical cord lining – Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) and Cord Lining Epithelial Stem Cells (CLEpSCs). By storing a combination of stem cells, it increases your child and family’s medical options for possible therapeutic and regenerative applications in the future, especially for conditions that currently have no known cure.
Fully-owned Processing and Storage Facility
Proper protocols go into ensuring the viability of your child’s cord blood stem cells which is why it’s also important to choose a family cord blood bank that has full ownership over their processing and storage facilities. This means that they maintain direct control over critical services, quality, licencing and accreditations which assures parents of the well-being of their child’s cord blood that are stored under the bank’s care. This also provides the family cord blood bank with immediate access to resources in the event of an emergency.
As stem cell transplants or therapies may take place now or later in life, choosing a family cord blood bank with a sound, transparent and sustainable financial status is vital as it ensures that the family cord blood bank will be one that you can trust to be with you for the long haul. Public-listed companies offer financial transparency for increased assurance. Some other factors to take note of also include the family cord blood bank’s processing technology, customer service and enrolment process, just to name a few.
Find out more about the lifesaving benefits of cord blood banking here!
Watch a short educational series about umbilical cord banking here!
Test your knowledge with our UCB 101 Crossword Puzzle below!
1Diseases Treated with Stem Cells and their Potential Applications.
Cordlife website: https://www.cordlife.com/sg/treatable-diseases. Accessed June 14, 2021.
2Afarid M, Sanie-Jahromi F. Mesenchymal Stem Cells and COVID-19: Cure, Prevention, and Vaccination. Stem Cells International 2021. 2021;0705:1-12.
3Jawdat D, Saleh S, Sutton P, Anazi H, Shubaili A, Tamim H, et al. Chances of Finding an HLA-Matched Sibling: The Saudi Experience. ScienceDirect. 2009;15(10): 1342-1334.
4Diseases and Disorders that have been in Clinical Trials with Cord Blood or Cord Tissue Cells page. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation website: https://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/diseases. Accessed June 14, 2021
5Murias M, Major S, Compton S, et al. Electrophysiological Biomarkers Predict Clinical Improvement in an Open‐Label Trial Assessing Efficacy of Autologous Umbilical Cord Blood for Treatment of Autism. Stem Cells Journals. 2017; 6(5):1332-1339.
6Dawson G, Sun JM, Baker J, et al. A Phase II Randomized Clinical Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of Intravenous Umbilical Cord Blood Infusion for Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Pediatr. 2020;222:164-173.
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