Expecting parents are faced with a lot of important decisions before their baby is born. These include the basics, such as what to name the baby, which Pediatrician to go to, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, etc. And more and more, they are having to consider the issue of whether or not to bank their baby's umbilical cord blood.
From ads in parenting magazines, direct mailings, and flyers in their obstetrician's office, expecting parents are repeatedly told of their 'once-in-a-lifetime chance' to save their baby's umbilical cord blood for possible use later to save his life.
Since it doesn't hurt to take a baby's umbilical cord blood and it would in fact be discarded anyway, you wouldn't think that there would be much of an issue with cord blood banking. What parent wouldn't want to do everything that they could to make sure that their baby grows up to be healthy?
But the issue isn't really with cord blood banking, which every parent should likely try to do. The issue is more about banking blood in a for-profit private cord blood bank for a family's own use. As an alternative, parents can donate their baby's umbilical cord blood in a public bank for free.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used in transplants to treat a variety of pediatric disorders including leukemia, sickle cell disease, and metabolic disorders. Patients who need a cord blood transplant can currently try to find a match with a sibling or from an unrelated person. An autologous (self) transplant can also be done if a child's umbilical cord blood has been stored in a private cord blood bank, although you wouldn't do that for conditions like leukemia because of the genetic risk of the leukemia being in the cord blood too.