It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? As parents, we all want to protect our babies. We dread the thought of something bad happening to them and even when our babies aren’t babies anymore, that feeling never goes away.
That’s one of the reasons that parents are turning to umbilical cord blood banking, which is pitched as a kind of insurance for our children’s long-term health.
See, the umbilical cord is rich in powerful ‘stem cells.’ For those of us who didn’t love science in school, those cells are the ones that are responsible for helping us grow in the womb and continue to support our development as we age.
Broken a bone? Stem cells heal it. Scratched your skin? Stem cells will be on the case.
After birth, some of those incredible cells are left behind and it’s possible to collect and store them for future therapeutic use.
You may have seen stories on BBC News about the possibilities of umbilical cord blood. It boggles the mind but doctors have already used them to improve the symptoms of autism and cerebral palsy, cure paralysis after a stroke, and even grow a beating heart – from scratch.
All of that has happened in the last ten years… who knows what they’ll be using them for by the time our kids have grown up?
Making a heart
In 2017, the University of Texas used stem cells to grow a heart from scratch – imagine what that could do for organ transplants. If they used your baby’s umbilical cord stem cells, they’d never need to look for a donor.
3D printing with stem cells
I’ve heard stories of people 3D-printing all sorts of things, but never parts of the human body. Thanks to stem cells, that’s exactly what they did in the USA – they used stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta to make parts of jawbone and ears.
Treating autism, cerebral palsy & more
Cerebral palsy and autism are incurable, but cord stem cells have been used by Duke University Hospital to improve symptoms for children with the conditions. One mum has written about her son’s therapy here – it’s really inspiring stuff.
After a stroke, patients can end up paralysed. Except now, studies have shown stem cells might prevent or reverse the damage. If our kids ever suffer a stroke when they’ve grown up, here’s an option that means it wouldn’t have to change their life.
This one is really exciting – umbilical cord stem cells have a special power: they can move around the body and are draw to problem areas like magnets. Doctors are thinking of using that ability to transport ‘anti-cancer compounds’ to the site of tumours.
It’s crazy to think what science can do these days, right? It’s even crazier to think it all begins with an umbilical cord. For some of us, our kids have already been born and we can’t store but for those of us still waiting on our baby to arrive, it’s well worth thinking about.
You can find out more here: https://cells4life.com/cord-blood-banking-overview/