The pros and cons, costs, and reasons behind saving your newborn's umbilical cord blood.
If you're expecting a baby, you might have thought about umbilical cord blood - along with the many other ways you can hope to make life safe for your child.
Expectant parents do all kinds of things for safety's sake. They plug up empty electrical sockets, childproof their cabinets, pore over car seat research, and measure the space between the bars of hand-me-down cribs -- all months before their son or daughter is born.
And some are now choosing a procedure that, they feel, could further protect their children from harm: umbilical cord blood banking.
The procedure takes blood from the umbilical cord at birth and stores it for a fee in a private blood bank. (Public banks are another option - see below.) Because this blood is rich in stem cells -- cells that have the ability to transform into just about any human cell -- it could someday be used as treatment if your child ever became ill with certain diseases. It might also be useful for a sick sibling or relative. Banking cord blood is a way of preserving potentially life-saving cells that usually get thrown away after birth.