Your Baby's Cord Blood

The Downside

While many parents see peace of mind as the major advantage of cord blood banking, there are disadvantages as well:

Cost: Fees vary, but commercial cord blood banks charge approximately $1,000 to $1,500 to gather and store a sample, in addition to a yearly maintenance fee in the $100 range. You might also pay an additional fee of several hundred dollars for the cord-blood collection kit, courier service to the cord blood bank, and initial processing. These expenses are not covered by insurance.

No guarantees: There is no guarantee that the cord blood stem cells will be able to be used in your child or another family member, should they become ill, or that they will offer a cure. So much depends on the diagnosis, the nature of the illness, and the needs of the individual patient. Dr. Szczepiorkowski also notes that there is only a 25 percent chance that two siblings will be a perfect match for a stem cell transplant, after they undergo testing for tissue compatibility.

You'll need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages for yourself and discuss the options with your healthcare provider. If you decide to go ahead with cord blood banking, you'll have to make arrangements with a bank in advance. In most cases, the company provides a kit that your healthcare provider will use to collect the blood just after you deliver your baby. A courier service then delivers it to the cord blood bank, where it is given an identifying number and its components frozen.

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