In the absence of adequate public banking system, private banking is the only option for many parents.

But with a price tag of $1,000 to $1,200 for collection and $100 to $125 a year for storage, private banking isn’t cheap and the chances that a child will need a transfusion of his or her own stem cells are slim – 1 in 2,700 by age 21, according to the Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood Foundation Web site.

Though stem cells hold the promise of future treatments for diseases including diabetes, brain injury and Parkinson’s. Known as ”master cells” capable of transforming into other types of cells, stem cells have become big business for private cord blood banks, which store cord blood for parents almost anywhere in the country at a fairly steep cost.

Experts confess that because of the steep cost of banking cord blood privately, and due to inadequacy of public banking,  it’s difficult to advise women about what to do.

Cord blood stored at public banks is far more likely to be used, which is why several major medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have urged parents to donate their baby’s cord blood to a public bank instead of storing it privately for family use only.

It doesn’t cost the parent anything, it doesn’t hurt the baby, so it is quite logical to bank it for some child who might need it someday.

The National Marrow Donor Program, which serves as the national registry, provided nearly 900 cord blood units for transplant in 2008, an increase of nearly 40 percent over 2007. But despite a growing network of public cord blood banks, only 20,000 cord blood units where collected in 2008, less than half of what one private bank, Cord Blood Registry, collected.

The idea behind public cord banking is something almost all lawmakers can agree on. The Legislature passed a bill last year requiring health care facilities to educate women about storing umbilical cord blood.

Cord blood can be used instead of a bone marrow transplant to rebuild the immune systems of children with leukemia or lymphoma. But parents have to be careful of misleading literature of private banks which for e.g. claims that one can save his/her grandmother from ovarian cancer with cord blood.

Actually children who had stage-three or four neuroblastoma, are the primary beneficiaries of the stem cell transplants.

However, experts hope that legislators will urgently pass the bill to make public banking more accessible, despite the present economical situation.

Source: The Morning Call