There are a lot of big decisions that need to be made before having a baby. "What kind of travel system should we get? What color should we paint the nursery? What prenatal classes should we take? What hospital should we go to?" Just to name a few. And when you get towards the end of the pregnancy, you start thinking about planning for the child's future. This could involve opening a 529 savings account for her education or putting aside money for her future wedding (kids, especially girls, are expensive!).
One of the things we've also decided to do for our daughter's arrival is plan for her medical future. In short, we've decided to bank the cord blood following her birth. If you don't know much about cord blood banking, the basic premise is that the cells in the umbilical cord are a form of the child's own stem cells. The blood is stored and cryogenially frozen in a fancy scientific facility. These stem cells can be used to treat a plethora of diseases from various forms of cancer, blood disorders, and immune deficiencies. (Can you guess where this is going?) In addition to treating diseases, there's a lot of research being done with stem cells from cord blood. And there's a lot of research being done on using stem cells to regenerate the pancreas for someone with type 1 diabetes. (I tried to find a web reference for this last sentence, but I don't want to bias someone's opinion based on one source. So google "cord blood banking type 1 diabetes" if you want to do your own research.)
Banking the cord blood is something that I had thought about before but didn't seriously consider until we met a representative for a local cord blood banking company at our prenatal class. We asked a lot of questions like "Can we use the cord blood for other children if we decide to only do it once? What security measures are taken to insure the quality of the cord blood over time? How much?$?$?" Banking the cord blood is not an inexpensive endeavor, but considering the amount of diseases that can be easily treated with it, we believe it is worth it. And if the research continues to progress in treating type 1 diabetes and, Heaven forbid, our daughter gets it, I like knowing that we have some sort of plan for attempting to keep it at bay in the long-term.
This was an extremely personal decision for us as parents, much like a lot of things when it comes to being parents (breastfeeding vs. formula, where they go to school, crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter--this is a source of conflict in our house because I favor creamy and Trey likes . . . the wrong kind, etc.). So I'm not saying that every parent should bank their child's cord blood. And I'm not saying every parent that has type 1 diabetes should bank their child's cord blood, either! Some people can't justify the cost and annual fee or don't believe that the research is far enough along to invest in its promise. We went through all these discussions as we were deciding to go through with this. In the end, we felt that this is a one-time action that we could potentially use to save our daughter from a significant amount of diseases. If 10 years from now she developed some cord-blood treated blood disorder, we would regret not doing this now.
My only suggestion if you want to consider cord blood banking for your child in the future is to do your research, find a reputable company and machine gun them with questions, and go with your gut feeling. I feel at peace with our decision. And I feel very giddy that I got to talk about something scientific on my blog for the first time! =)
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nurse, certified diabetes educator (CDE) or any medical professional of any kind. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!) Therefore, please do not use any of my postings as medical fact. I am simply a blogger expressing my highs and lows (pun intended) with diabetes. For changes in your medication, exercise regiment, or diet please consult a qualified physician.