The blood that flows through the umbilical cord and placenta has remarkable medical potential. It can be stored for years, and the stem cells it contains have applications in medical treatment, genetic testing, and scientific research. In particular, during a high risk pregnancy, which is often caused by a hereditary condition, banked cord blood can be vital to the health or survival of both mother and child.
What's a High Risk Pregnancy?
A high risk pregnancy can potentially affect the health of the mother, baby or both. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid disease and autoimmune conditions like lupus are all problems that may have genetic links. Whether the disease occurs in the child is dependent on many factors, such as whether both parents carry genes for the disease and whether an environmental trigger occurs.
Hereditary Conditions and High Risk Pregnancy
Certain hereditary diseases can greatly increase the chance of a high risk pregnancy and can also be passed to the child. Among these are:
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) During Pregnancy
A woman with CF may develop breathing difficulties as the pregnancy progresses. CF also increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes. The child of a mother with CF has an increased risk of developing the disease.
This condition occurs only during pregnancy. Malfunctions in blood sugar regulation lead to an abnormally high blood sugar level, which can result in health problems for both mother and child during the pregnancy as well as later in life.
Current research is focused on liver fibrosis, lung cancer, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes - which typically appears in childhood or the early teen.
Hypertension During Pregnancy
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, often has a genetic component. Hypertension may lead to serious complications such as kidney damage in the mother, low birth weight in the child and a premature delivery.
Thyroid Disease During Pregnancy
Thyroid disease can result in too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone in the mother's blood stream. Either can increase the risk of miscarriage or early delivery in the mother and low birth weight in the baby. Other complications of thyroid disease include high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and anemia in the mother, and hypothyroidism can affect the child's brain development and growth.
RH Factor During Pregnancy
When a mother is Rh negative and the baby is Rh positive, the mother may develop antibodies against her baby's blood. The initial pregnancy is not usually the problem, but in subsequent pregnancies, the risk of miscarriage is high and the baby may be born with severe anemia.
Cervical Incompetence During Pregnancy
Structural weakness in the cervix can result in an increased risk of premature delivery. This inherited condition can affect female children.
Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS) During Pregnancy
APS is an immune system disorder that causes increased blood clotting. It can increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and may cause high blood pressure. APS can also cause blood clots in the mother and may affect the amount of blood a baby receives through the placenta.
Lupus Nephritis During Pregnancy
Although lupus is not directly inherited, it does seem to run in families; when a twin develops lupus, it increases the risk that the second twin will also develop the disease. An autoimmune disorder, lupus can cause renal failure in the mother and increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Some babies born to mothers with lupus develop heart problems.
What is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and blood vessels of the placenta after the baby has been delivered. Cord blood can be collected and frozen, at no risk to either mother or baby. In addition to the normal constituents of blood, cord blood also contains stem cells. Stem cells from cord blood offer the potential to treat a wide variety of different diseases and medical conditions. Cord blood can also be used for genetic testing.
Stem cells from cord blood offer the potential to treat a wide variety of different diseases and medical conditions.
Since stem cells from cord blood might be used to create new cells anywhere in the body, the research in this area is very wide ranging. Current research is focused on liver fibrosis, lung cancer, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes - which typically appears in childhood or the early teens. Other research areas include sickle cell disease, thalessemia, immune system disorders and inherited metabolic conditions. Stem cells are currently being used to treat many of these conditions as well. In one study, scientists at Columbia University developed insulin-producing beta cells from stem cells. Transplanted into mice that had been bred to have type 1 diabetes, these cells restored insulin levels to normal.
In some ways, banking cord blood is like insurance, giving you and your child a valuable resource. Cord blood is particularly important in cases of a high risk pregnancy or when parents have or are carriers of genetic diseases. At Americord Registry, we have developed a special method to collect twice as many stem cells compared to other methods. We adhere to the highest of quality standards as well as all legal and regulatory requirements. We offer cord blood, cord tissue and placental tissue banking at a prices that include 20 years of storage without annual fees. Schedule a call below to learn more about the potentially life-saving benefits of stem cell banking.