Expectant parents now have the option of using umbilical cord banks to store the stem cells of their babies for a period of 21 years.

The stem cells will be kept in store till the parents or the child (upon reaching the age of 21) decide what it can be used for.

Health experts feel that this is advantageous for two reasons. First the stem cells can be used to cure a number of diseases and should the child fall prey to any disease he has a better chance of recovery.

They also feel that if the child is healthy, then he or she can think about donating the stem cells for furthering scientific research.

The procedure for enrollment at either of the banks - Life Cell in Chennai and Reliance Life in Mumbai - is simple.

Says Harshad Vaid, Operational Head, Life Cell, Delhi, “Over the last year, there has been a steady growth of interest in stem cell banking. When we opened in 2005, we had just 10 sets of parents who wanted to store umbilical cord blood. Now there are over 1500.”

However, great as this may sound, many scientists and doctors remain skeptical about the umbilical bank theory.

According to Stem Cell expert, Dr Dinesh Pendarkar, every individual requires a minumum amount of cells for treatment and the amount that can be effectively stored at birth may not be enough to cure a disease that may occur when the child is say 18 years old.

However, with the rate of diversification picking up and the interest of the people being piqued, mindsets are changing by leaps and bounds and the future scenario may be much better. Link [www.ibnlive.com/article.php?id=7344&section_id=17#]