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There’s been a lot of talk about cord blood banking in recent years, especially among parents-to-be. Protecting the health of their little one is in every parent’s best interest, and deciding to bank their child’s cord blood is a step in the right direction.

While this preventative procedure continues to take the world by storm, parents are wondering about the cord blood collection process. More specifically, they’re interested in learning about the methods that are being used to collect cord blood as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Whether you’re an expectant parent or are currently planning to start a family, here’s everything you need to know about cord blood collection in modern technology.

Umbilical cord blood and its uses

After nine months of carrying the baby, the mother’s body starts to prepare for labor. During this process, there’s a transfer of cells from the mother to the baby that occurs near or at term. At this time, the umbilical cord and the placenta become rich sources of valuable and potentially life-saving stem cells. Stem cells are there to protect the immune system of the mother and the baby and prepare them for delivery. However, the role of these cells doesn’t have to end there. When collected, stem cells can be preserved for potential future medical and therapeutic uses. The whole family can benefit from collecting and storing these cells – not just the mother and the baby.

Studies have shown the effectiveness of stem cells in combating various diseases by generating healthy cells that replace diseased cells. This is referred to as regenerative medicine. What this means is that parents can take this preventative step today and ensure the health of their children tomorrow. They can choose to bank cord blood and placental tissue privately (for private use) or publicly (donate umbilical CBUs).

The process of cord blood collection

After delivery, there is an amount of blood that’s leftover in the umbilical cord and the placenta. This blood is collected immediately after birth during a painless, non-invasive, and safe procedure. The umbilical cord is clamped, and the blood that remains in there is extracted with the help of a needle. The needle has a bag attached to it for easier collection. The entire process lasts for about 10 minutes, after which the blood and tissue are sent to the lab. After being processed, the cord blood and placental tissue are stored at a cord blood bank for potential future use.

When stored in proper conditions, cord blood and placental tissue can be safely preserved for two decades (most commonly). It is possible to choose lifetime storage plans, and any current plans can be extended at any given moment.

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

The standard in utero cord blood collection method

When talking about the process of cord blood collection, it’s important to discuss the two main techniques that are used. The first method (the standard one) is called in utero cord blood collection, and it’s performed prior to placental delivery. Following the double-clamping of the umbilical cord and the removal of the infant from the field, CBU is extracted from the umbilical vein using a needle.

This method is generally preferred by many public cord blood banks across Europe and America. It’s also a method that’s used in all private cord blood banks. This method is easy to learn which means that it can be easily performed by the birth unit staff. There’s also no need for additional resources, and there’s a reduced risk of infection as well.

Ex utero cord blood collection method

The second method for collecting cord blood is referred to as the ex utero method. It’s performed immediately after delivery of the placenta. It is more complex in the sense that it has to be performed in a separate room while also requiring additional medical personnel that need to be trained. Other than that, this method also requires additional resources, and the costs tend to be higher.

Another way the ex utero method differs from in utero method involves cord blood volume and total nucleated cells. The in utero method tends to enhance total nucleated cell count. The ex utero method, however, results in lower total nucleated cell counts. Ex utero procedure also leads to a lower cord blood volume unlike in utero method, which doesn’t compromise cord volumes. Ex utero cord blood collection does, however, make it easier for the staff to focus the attention on the health of the mother and the infant, which gives this method a significant advantage.

Wrapping up

With the advancements in modern technology, expectant parents are given more options to help protect their child’s future health. Because cord blood banking involves some advanced planning, it’s important that you start planning for it in advance. Pregnancy is the right time to begin considering preventative methods that have the potential to cure diseases and save lives. For parents, it’s a step in the right direction and one of the best ways to safeguard the entire family.

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As a parent, knowing how cord blood is collected in modern technology can give you an insight into the procedure and help you make a well-informed decision. 

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