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Why Donating Umbilical Cord Blood Is Important

Have you ever wondered whether or not you should donate your baby's umbilical cord blood? We've all heard people talking about the health benefits, but it tends to be in relatively ambiguous terms. While most people have heard that there are positive health benefits, they don't necessarily know what they might be. A new study highlights the benefits of umbilical cord blood pretty clearly; and they are nothing short of amazing.

While there was a time in the past when umbilical cords were discarded as postpartum waste, scientists have been studying umbilical cord stem cells and seeing amazing results. In fact, a recent study suggests that transplanted umbilical cord blood has the potential to treat leukemia, as well as approximately 80 other blood-related conditions. That's because stem cells in umbilical cord blood are blood-forming cells, also known as "hematopoietic." Scientists have found that these blood-forming stem cells help to increase any type of blood cells. While bone marrow is also an excellent source of hematopoietic stem cells, umbilical cord blood can be stored in advance in liquid nitrogen. It also carries around 10 times more stem cells than bone marrow, according to The Business Standard. Cord blood stem cells have already been used in therapy for infants suffering from cerebral palsy and other brain injuries.

Despite the myriad potential health benefits of donating umbilical cord blood, only five percent of all births in the U.S. have saved cord blood, according to the University Herald. Meaning that, despite the impressive health benefits, cord blood is simply thrown away 95 percent of the time.

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Not everyone is throwing away their curative-rich cord blood, of course. Some parents have chosen to bank their babies' umbilical cord blood for later, in case an unforeseeable illness happens down the road. Unfortunately, the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation found that less than 0.04 percent of children benefit from having their own cord blood transplanted into their system. It turns out whatever genetic predisposition present in the child is also present in the cord blood; even a child suffering from leukemia will need to use cord blood donated from a different source.

If more parents could be encouraged to donate their cord blood (which would simply be thrown out otherwise) it could not only help people suffering from blood-based diseases, but it would also help with the exorbitant cost; at present, cord blood costs can range anywhere from $22,000 to $45,000 per unit.

To consider the option of cord blood donation, please visit Be The Match. As the site points out, it's safe and it's free. Nobody is taking blood from your baby, your labor and delivery will be utterly unaffected; and that cord blood could potentially save someone from blood-related cancer. It's a win-win.