What is cord blood banking — and is it better to use a public or private facility?
Answer From Asmaa Ferdjallah, M.D., M.P.H.
Cord blood banking is a procedure in which blood is taken from the umbilical cord after a baby is born. Cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. It can be used for research or preserved for possible use in a stem cell transplant.
Collecting cord blood poses few, if any, risks. If a baby’s cord blood isn’t collected for preservation or research, it’s thrown away. If you’re considering cord blood banking, understand the differences between using a public and private facility. For example:
Public cord blood banking facility. You might choose this option if you’d like your baby’s cord blood to be available for research or public use. Cord blood from unrelated donors can be used to treat conditions such as leukemia, inherited blood disorders and rare otherwise fatal genetic diseases.
Cord blood can be collected at any facility where health care providers are trained to recover cord blood. Public facilities don’t charge to store cord blood. But there might be a hospital fee for collection. After collection, the donation is then shipped to a cord blood bank. Cord blood banked in a public program won’t typically be available for future private use.
Private cord blood banking facility. You might choose this option if you want to preserve your baby’s cord blood for possible personal use. However, the cost can be considerable. Private cord blood banks may charge a collection fee and ongoing maintenance fees. Yet the chance that your child will ever use the banked cord blood is very low.
Also, should a child need a stem cell transplant, there’s no guarantee that the banked cord blood will remain viable or be suitable for a transplant.
If you’d like to know more about public cord blood banking or wonder whether private cord blood banking would be a worthwhile investment, talk to your health care provider. Your provider can help you make an informed decision.
Asmaa Ferdjallah, M.D., M.P.H.
April 27, 2022
- Shearer WT, et al. Cord blood banking for potential future transplantation. Pediatrics. 2017; doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-2695.
- Landon MB, et al., eds. Maternal-fetal immunology. In: Gabbe’s Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 8th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- FAQs: Cord blood banking. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/cord-blood-banking. Accessed April 8, 2022.
- Blood stem cell frequently asked questions. Health Resources and Services Administration. https://bloodstemcell.hrsa.gov/about/faqs. Accessed April 8, 2022.