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QA30: I’ve heard about banking my baby’s blood from the umbilical cord (also called cord blood banking). What is this? Should I do it?

Umbilical cord blood contains cells that are the building blocks for all the other cells in the body (“stem cells”). This means that it has the potential to be used to treat many kinds of cancers and other diseases that might not otherwise be treatable. As researchers learn more and more about the mechanisms of diseases and the treatments of diseases, there might be more diseases that can be treated with stem cells. If your child ends up with a life-threatening illness, it is possible that his/her cord blood could be used to treat this illness. The potential to protect our children from a possible deadly illness using cord blood is quite attractive to many people, however storing the cord blood is extremely expensive and is generally not financially possible for most people. It seems to be an insurance policy of sorts, but not a cheap one. – Libby Coughlin, FNP and Steve Mendes, MD

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