Banking Baby Cord Blood (2022)

By Kathryn Whitbourne

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson,MD on February 07, 2021

What Is Cord Blood Banking?

Cord blood banking is a process of collecting potentially life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord and placenta and storing them for future use. Stem cells are immature cells that can assume the form of other cells.

(Video) How umbilical cord blood could save your life

There are so many things to think about when you have a child. One of them is the blood from your baby’s umbilical cord (which connects the baby to the mother while in the womb). It used to be thrown away at birth, but now, many parents store the blood for the future health of their child. Should you do it?

What Can It Be Used For?

The umbilical cord fluid is loaded with stem cells. They can treat cancer, blood diseases like anemia, and some immune system disorders, which disrupt your body's ability to defend itself.

The fluid is easy to collect and has 10 times more stem cells than those collected from bone marrow.

Stem cells from cord blood rarely carry any infectious diseases and are half as likely to be rejected as adult stem cells.

How Do You Get It?

If you want the blood stored, after the birth, the doctor clamps the umbilical cord in two places, about 10 inches apart, and cuts the cord, separating mother from baby. Then they insert a needle and collect at least 40 milliliters of blood from the cord. The blood is sealed in a bag and sent to a lab or cord blood bank for testing and storage. The process only takes a few minutes and is painless for mother and baby.

The cord blood bank may also send tubes so that the mother’s blood can be taken, too. If so, the banking kit will have instructions along with blood collection tubes.

Where Is It stored?

There are three options:

(Video) Banking your baby's cord blood: An overview

Public cord banks don't charge anything for storage. Any donation made is available for anyone who needs it. The bank may also use the donated cord blood for research.

Private (commercial) cord banks will store the donated blood for use by the donor and family members only. They can be expensive. These banks charge a fee for processing and an annual fee for storage.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) neither recommends nor advises against cord blood banking. But along with the AAP and AMA, it cautions parents about private cord blood banking. Here's why:

  • Collection and storage costs at private cord blood banks are high.
  • Other effective treatments may be available that are less expensive.
  • The chance of privately banked cord blood being used by your child is extremely low.

A stem cell transplant using an individual’s own cord blood (called an autologous transplant) cannot be used for genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, because the genetic mutations that cause these disorders are present in the baby's cord blood. Other diseases that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, such as leukemia, may also already be present in a baby’s cord blood.

Because of these limits and the uncommon occurrence of the diseases that can be treated with a stem cell transplant, there have been just more than 400 autologous cord blood transplants in United States in the last 2 decades. In contrast, more than 60,000 unrelated donor cord blood transplants have been performed worldwide.

In short, the American Academy of Pediatricsand the American Medical Association recommend against storing cord blood as a form of "biological insurance," because the benefits are too remote to justify the costs.

(Video) An OBGYN's Perspective on Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells Banking

Are there situations where private cord blood banking might make sense? Some parents choose to bank their child's blood if they don't know their medical background -- for instance, if a parent was adopted or the child was conceived with a sperm or egg donor.

Direct-donation banks are a combination of public and private banks. They store cord blood for public use. But they also accept donations reserved for families. No fee is charged.

Should You Bank Your Baby's Cord Blood?

It depends on who you ask. Although commercial cord blood banks often bill their services as "biological insurance" against future diseases, the blood doesn’t often get used. One study says the chance that a child will use their cord blood over their lifetime is between 1 in 400 and 1 in 200,000.

The stored blood can't always be used, even if the person develops a disease later on, because if the disease was caused by a genetic mutation, it would also be in the stem cells. Current research says the stored blood may be useful for only 15 years.

There are other things to consider if you have twins. If one of your twins is born with a genetic disorder or develops a childhood leukemia, the cord blood likely contains the same code that caused the problem in the first place. It cannot be used to treat either twin or any other person.

Cord blood cells from one healthy twin can be used to treat your other twin or another ill child, as long as the two are a good match. But this benefit is greatest when the two children have a slightly different genetic makeup. This means that if your twins are identical (monozygotic), they will make poor blood donors for one another. If your twins are fraternal (dizygotic), they have the same chance as any other sibling of making a good donor for the other twin. Regardless of whether twins are identical or fraternal, cord blood could be used to treat another ill sibling.

(Video) How Does Cord Blood Banking Work? Why Bank Cord Blood?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics don’t recommend routine cord blood storage. The groups say private banks should be used only when there’s a sibling with a medical condition who could benefit from the stem cells.

The AAP does recommend cord blood banking if an infant has a full sibling with a malignant or genetic condition treatable with cord blood transplantation. These conditions include:

  • Leukemia
  • Immune deficiencies, such as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID)
  • Lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's)
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Krabbe's disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Other rare diseases

Even so, a brother or a sister has only a 25% chance of being a perfect genetic match. Thus, a sibling may require a bone marrow or cord blood transplant from an unrelated donor.

The AMA also suggests considering private cord blood banking if there is a family history of malignant or genetic conditions that might benefit from cord blood stem cells. But keep in mind that to find a suitable match for any type of transplant, 70% must look outside their family.

Families are encouraged to donate stem cells to a public bank to help others.

If you do decide to bank your baby’s cord blood, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: It’s best not to make it a last-minute decision. You should coordinate with the bank before your baby is born so nothing is left to chance.

What the Future Holds

No one knows how stem cells will be used in the future, but researchers hope they may be used to treat many conditions, like Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart failure, spinal cord damage, and others.

It's possible that storing your child's cord blood cells now may be useful one day in combating these diseases. For now, these treatments are only theories. It's also not clear if stem cells from cord blood -- as opposed to stem cells from other sources -- will be useful in these potential treatments.

(Video) Questions About Cord Blood Banking


Banking Baby Cord Blood? ›

You may save your baby's cord blood in a private bank or donate it to a public bank. Private banks charge a fee to store cord blood for your family's use. If you donate the cord blood to a public bank, the cord blood can be used by anyone who needs it.

What does it mean to bank your baby's cord blood? ›

Cord blood banking is an option for parents who want to preserve the blood of the umbilical cord and placenta of their baby as "insurance" to help with possible future medical needs of their child. It can also be used for other biologically matched children, either in their own family or the general public.

What are the benefits of saving baby's cord blood? ›

Cord blood contains cells called hematopoietic stem cells. These cells can turn into any kind of blood cell and can be used for transplants that can cure diseases such as blood disorders, immune deficiencies, metabolic diseases, and some kinds of cancers.

How long does cord blood banking last? ›

Cord blood banking is a simple and painless procedure that could save lives. Immediately after birth, cord blood is removed from the clamped-off umbilical cord. After that, the blood is frozen and stored (or "banked") for future use. When stored properly, cord blood can remain viable for more than 20 years.

Is it worth storing cord blood? ›

FalseYou're right. Doctors do not recommend that you privately bank cord blood on the slight chance that your baby will have a disease that could be treated with stem cells.

Can parents use baby's cord blood? ›

Can a parent use a child's cord blood? A parent can absolutely use their child's cord blood for treatment as long as there is an HLA match between the two individuals. HLA (Human leukocyte Antigen) typing is used to match patients and donors. HLA are proteins — or markers — found on most cells in your body.

Is cord blood type mom or baby? ›

Historically, most hospital laboratories performed a blood type and direct antiglobulin test (DAT) on cord blood from all infants born to mothers who were either Rh negative or blood group O.
Cord Blood Studies.
Other Antibody Detected10.1
Hemoglobin range12.8–23.3
Bilirubin range1.7–15.1
7 more rows

How much does it cost to bank cord blood? ›

Private cord blood banking can be expensive. Depending on the bank, current promotions and whether you're storing cord blood, cord tissue or both, initial processing fees can run from roughly $500 to $2,500, with annual storage fees of $100 to $300 each year thereafter.

Is cord blood a mother or baby? ›

Cord blood is the blood from the baby that is left in the umbilical cord and placenta after birth. It contains special cells called hematopoietic stem cells that can be used to treat some types of diseases.

Should I bank my child's cord blood? ›

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics don't recommend routine cord blood storage. The groups say private banks should be used only when there's a sibling with a medical condition who could benefit from the stem cells.

Do you need to store cord blood for second child? ›

Myth: Since I banked cord blood for my first child, I don't need to store cord blood for the second child. Fact: If you banked cord blood for your first child, the reasons for banking cord blood for other brothers and sisters are the same. There is about a 25% chance that any two siblings will have identical typing.

Can cord blood be used for siblings? ›

When can siblings use cord blood? Stem cells from cord blood can be used for the newborn, their siblings, and potentially other relatives. Patients with genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, cannot use their own cord blood and will need stem cells from a sibling's cord blood.

Which cord blood banking is best? ›

The 8 Best Cord Blood Banks of 2022
  • Best Overall: Cord Blood Registry (CBR)
  • Best Value: Americord.
  • Best Customer Support: Cryo-Cell.
  • Best Variety and Flexibility: StemCyte.
  • Best for Families With Medical Conditions: Viacord.
  • Best for Placenta Banking: Lifebank USA.
  • Best Processing Time: MiracleCord.
Aug 4, 2022

Should I save my baby's umbilical cord stump? ›

A baby's umbilical cord stump dries out and eventually falls off — usually within one to three weeks after birth. In the meantime, treat the area gently: Keep the stump dry. Parents were once instructed to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol after every diaper change.

How much cord blood is needed for a transplant? ›

In general, fewer stem cells are needed for cord blood transplantation, and usually a volume of 50 to 100 ml of cord blood will provide enough of a cell dose for a child or small adult.

What percentage of parents do cord blood banking? ›

If publicly donated cord blood is included too, then approximately 3% of U.S. parents now store cord blood at birth, because there are about 5 cord blood units privately stored for every cord blood unit that is publicly donated.

Can you deduct cord blood banking on taxes? ›

Cord blood contains stem cells that doctors may use to treat disease. Thus, expenses for banking cord blood to treat an existing or imminently probable disease may qualify as deductible medical expenses.

Why do hospitals take cord blood? ›

Cord blood can be used to treat certain types of bone marrow-related cancers. Some parents may choose to save (bank) their child's cord blood for this and other future medical purposes. Cord blood banking for personal use is done by both cord blood banks and private companies.

What blood type is cord blood? ›

​Cord Blood Studies are performed on the cord blood of a newborn, when the mother is known Rh(o)D Negative, had an unknown Rh type, or has known significant antibody(ies).
24740 Cord Blood Testing.
Specimen TypeTemperatureTime
​Cord bloodRefrigerate​<48 hours old​

Can cord blood help with autism? ›

Infusion in question: Cord-blood therapies have failed to ease autism traits in a series of ongoing clinical trials. An infusion of umbilical cord blood does not improve social skills in autistic children, according to results from the largest clinical trial of the therapy's effectiveness for autism to date1.

What does it mean to store cord blood? ›

This makes cord blood at the time of delivery a rich source of stem cells and other cells of the immune system. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the cord blood and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use.

How much does it cost to save your baby's umbilical cord? ›

On average, parents who go the private cord blood banking route spend between $300 and $2,300 for collection, processing and initial storage, paying additional annual storage fees after that, according to 2019 research in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. The Future State of Newborn Stem Cell Banking.

How much does it cost to preserve umbilical cord? ›

Cord Blood & Tissue Pricing
Cord BloodCord Blood & Cord Tissue
StandardStandard + Tissue
First Year of Storage$185$370
Retail Price
Retail Price$1,685$2,840
10 more rows

Should I save my baby's umbilical cord stump? ›

A baby's umbilical cord stump dries out and eventually falls off — usually within one to three weeks after birth. In the meantime, treat the area gently: Keep the stump dry. Parents were once instructed to swab the stump with rubbing alcohol after every diaper change.


1. CBR Cord Blood | Is Cord Blood Banking Right for Your and Your Baby?
(Diana In The Pink)
2. First public umbilical cord blood bank opens
(CBC News: The National)
3. Stem Cell Banking vs Cord Blood Banking
(Hope Biosciences)
4. Is it worth storing your baby's cord blood? - The Fifth Estate
(The Fifth Estate)
5. YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED: C-sections, cord blood banking, baby essentials, breastfeeding tips & more!
(The Doctors Bjorkman)
6. Inside an Umbilical-Cord-Blood Bank
(Wall Street Journal)

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