Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Umbilical Cord Blood Banking?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the banking-on-future-research dept.

Biotech 409

Maestro writes "There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot. What are your thoughts on umbilical cord blood banking? This seems like a major question for our newborn; the question is almost as stressful for us as naming the baby. Given Obama's stance on stem cells, the topic is timely. My understanding is that while the current uses for cord blood are limited, the sky's the limit for the future of stem cell therapies. But with the initial cost over $1000, and ongoing yearly fees, is it worth it?"

cancel ×

409 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636349)

Eat my shorts slashdot !!

useless in 10 years (4, Interesting)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636361)

In ten years, this thing will be useless, because we will be able to reprogram somatic cells to do all the work.

Re:useless in 10 years (4, Insightful)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636471)

yeah right, cancer was meant to have been cured by now too.....

Re:useless in 10 years (5, Interesting)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636577)

This is true, but Umbilical Cord cells aren't magical weapon for curing all diseases. There are not so many real uses for them today. They are promising, but not really curing the diseases.

The trick is in reprogramming. Those cells can reprogram to any cell in the body and theoretically replace any falling organ, but it is not sure if they will. Most of the time, they don't.

When we will be able to reprogram them (for example) to become insulin islet cells, then we have won the battle. We will cure diabetes. But when we will know how to reprogram them, then we will not need Umbilical cells, that aren't of much use today (although they aren't totally useless). We could easily use somatic cells (mature cells in the body) and program them to behave as we want ... some nice progress is being made on that field today ...

Re:useless in 10 years (2, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637085)

There are not so many real uses for them today. They are promising, but not really curing the diseases.

There are a lot of places in Asia where they think otherwise and where you can get Stem Cell treatments with Umbilical Cord cells. Not cheap though (though not expensive compared to Western health care).

AFAIK, results are mixed; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But to say there is no real use is saying too much. Forgot the name, but there is a few years old tv-documentary about all this.

Re:useless in 10 years (2, Interesting)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637153)

"But to say there is no real use is saying too much."

I wrote: "although they aren't totally useless"

I also wrote, they will be really useful when we will be able to program them, and then we will no longer need Umbilical cord cells, because we will be able to use somatic cells and program them ... .. by the way ... "Forgot the name, but there is a few years old tv-documentary about all this." ... this is a fantastic citation of a reliable source, congratulation ...

Re:useless in 10 years (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636633)

it probably has been, but are the researchers really going to announce this and put themselves out of a job

Re:useless in 10 years (1)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636517)

You are quite optimistic about the current state of stem cell research, I think it will take much longer.

I agree though that chances are equally well that, when useful stemcell related cures are on their way, no umbilical cord cells are needed for these. Perhaps somatic cells can be reprogrammed. More likely scientists will find a way to make "more determined" stem cells, for example colon stem cells or hair stem cells, more pluripotent and use these.

Re:useless in 10 years (2, Insightful)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636553)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but I would like to add:

Whether you want to fork up 1000 dollar for your newborn is a though ethical decision and I guess it also depends on your financial situation. If you can easily miss it, why deny your kid a possible cure? But to be honest, since most people don't put their baby's umbilical cord cells in a bank, most research will focus on cures where those are not required, because there's more potential to save lives.

Re:stem cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636647)

I have 3 kids and we never did. it sounded like a scam that they try to pull on new parents...

useless in 10 years. If you are the parent (2, Interesting)

upuv (1201447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636973)

Clearly you are not a parent. Neither am I.

However if I were I would view $1000 now and say $500 a year an unbelievable value gamble. In ten years this is all of a $6000 investment. Over on top of insurance of course.

I'm not one to gamble. But I know a good bet when I see one. I suspect that those "reprogramed" cells will not be as valuable as my natural fresh from conception ones. I suspect a doctor will go. "Holy Crap you have your own stem cells with you" well this is a no brainer procedure. You child will be fine you can take him/her home in two weeks. As apposed to well we can reprogram his/her toe nail cells but there is only a 32% chance they will take properly. We will have to hold her/him for another 4 months just to be sure.

Oh by the way. I'm fairly sure that funeral costs exceed $6000. So my bet is looking better.

Let's be life pigs. (4, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637021)

Yes, you must extend your child's life by any means necessary. Make sure you spend on EVERY possible long-shot method of eeking out even one more precious second. No price is too steep--other wise you are a terrible parent.

Because, let's face it. If you can prevent the one-in-a-thousand chance of getting some exotic cancer which can be cured with some soon-to-be-discovered cell procedure, then your child will never die!

I guess this will justify also every extreme spending to prevent any one possible way they might die. So I guess you will also spend a few thousand bucks on Lego Brick Tracheotomy Kit, because, you know, otherwise.... (Well, they don't work yet, but we expect them to be useful in the future.)

Now where do I put the /sarcasm tag?

Re:useless in 10 years. If you are the parent (1)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637097)

"I suspect that those "reprogramed" cells will not be as valuable as my natural fresh from conception ones."

This is the place, where you are wrong. In most cases the Umbilical cells will also have to be programmed if we want to use them at all. So ... if we know how to do it, then we can also do it with somatic cells ... to program them to be what we want ... also convert them into Umbilical cells if wish so ...

http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1106541&cid=26636577 [slashdot.org]

Re:useless in 10 years. If you are the parent (1)

Niedi (1335165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637147)

Ef it's not something like leukemia you will have to reprogramm these stem cells too since they are only able to differenciate to blood cells and the like. This includes most of the immune cells, but even for that you will have to find the right signals (also a kind of programming) to get them to differenciate.

Don't confuse them with embryonal stem cells, these are two completely different kinds.

Think of it as health insurance (4, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636387)

But with the initial cost over $1000, and ongoing yearly fees, is it worth it?"

A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe. When he tried to get a prosthesis, Bluecross/Blueshield denied the request because he wasn't covered. He now beats himself for having wanted to save $30/year on insurance.

Same for stem cells from umbilical cords: sure it looks costly, but in the event you get leukemia or some other nasty ailment in you lifetime (unlikely probability but definitely not zero), you'd find the investment very cheap indeed.
I myself would pay without hesitation.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (-1, Flamebait)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636427)

I think your nickname is in poor taste.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (4, Funny)

Rotund Prickpull (818980) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636593)

I think your nickname is in poor taste.

It's all relative. On the subject of bad tastes, yo mama.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636925)

I think your nickname is in poor taste.

But he lives in Soviet Russia. The nickname chose him.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (2, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637011)

At first, I agreed with you, but changed my mind. First, look at his #. He has had it a long time. You really can not expect him to change it.
Secondly, while it is a bit of a shock, it is also a bit of remembrance.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637063)

Three quarters of a million is an old-timer userid these days? Good grief. Get off my lawn, etc.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637109)

I'm kicking myself now because I waited several months to register a userid.

If I had registered as soon as I started reading slashdot then that UID would be worth at least $10000000 (in internet money [wikipedia.org] )

Warning: Do not use tool to cut off remaining arm! (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636449)

A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe [...] He now beats himself

With the other arm, presumably?

Re:Think of it as health insurance (2, Funny)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636529)

A friend of mine lost a limb in a accident with a lathe. When he tried to get a prosthesis, Bluecross/Blueshield denied the request because he wasn't covered. He now beats himself for having wanted to save $30/year on insurance.

Yeah, but it feels like someone else is doing it.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636641)

He should regret living in a country with such a deficient health care system, honestly. Hopefully he uses his vote to try to change things.

Re:Think of it as gamble (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636667)

Like any sane bettor you should think about what the odds are.

The other question is about what might you better do with the money.

Every day you take the chance of going out into the world and playing in the traffic. My guess is that you might be better off using the money to enhance your accident and liability coverage.

What are the chances of losing your job? Might you need that $1000 to live on for a couple of months?

My guess is that the chances you will use the blood are much less than those of being in a horrible traffic accident or those of losing your job.

Re:Think of it as gamble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636741)

Might you need that $1000 to live on for a couple of months?

$1000? Couple of months? Are you already assuming he's living in a box under a bridge somewhere?

Re:Think of it as health insurance (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636801)

And have you any idea how much it can cost if an elephant falls on you? I have a small rock here that repels elephants. Normally $1000, but to you, only $1500 if you buy today.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26637023)

Bone marrow transplants, and stem cell treatments are not all they're cracked up to be for leukemia cases.

I've seen them kill more people than not.

This coming from a two-time survivor of acute lymphocytic leukemia. Gimme four years of chemo any day of the week.

Re:Think of it as health insurance (1)

Niedi (1335165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637089)

I highly doubt it would be of much use.

Right now the whole stem cell debate is far too inflated with false hopes and overly optimistic goals. I could imagine that umbilical cord cells could maybe help with leukemia one day but apart from that I fail to see the big deal.
These are only hematopoetic stem cells after all...

And even IF we were one day able to extend the possibilities of differenciation we still have the (far bigger) problem of telling them WHERE and HOW to differenciate. And I don't see any handy solutions for that on the horizon.

Parents, on Slashdot!?! (1)

Shivinski (1053538) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636393)

There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot

This is Slashdot you incompetent clod. Noone here has a girlfriend let alone children!! Christ, half of us still live with our parents...

Re:Parents, on Slashdot!?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636455)

I *got* laid!
Once.
Didn't paid either.
I had a first time discount

Re:Parents, on Slashdot!?! (1)

edsousa (1201831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636745)

Nahh, I take my projects' stem cells. You know, just in case they would need them later.

About that summary... (-1, Offtopic)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636395)

There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot.

You must be new around here...

What?? (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636401)

There must be many parents (and soon-to-be parents) here at Slashdot.

You mean on Second Life??

Don't you wish you had one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636403)

I know I wish I happened to have a bank of stem cells for myself. This is an easy choice, if you're going to spend 9 months baking a kid what is another $1000 if you could save its life one day? $1000 is the same amount as the 3D Apple iFusionPod they'll have to have in 10 years anyway.

Do it. (4, Interesting)

lecithin (745575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636439)

I'm a father of 4. Our newbie was born at 23 weeks/0 days gestation in December. He isn't due until April 12th. (Doing great, BTW) Birth weight was 1lb 6oz. (now at 2lbs 5oz.)

My son just got transferred out of the NICU at Children's Hospital in MPLS yesterday. He has needed numerous blood products, several surgeries and we still have a long road ahead. The odds are that he will have some developmental problems in the future. We banked his cells. Perhaps they are not going to do us any good today - tomorrow may just help our little man.

You just never know what is going to happen. For me, it is quite worth the investment.

So why are/were you such a Bush supporter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636473)

That is the question.

Re:So why are/were you such a Bush supporter? (5, Funny)

lecithin (745575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636481)

Without the Bush, I would never have been a father.

Something you probably would never understand.

Re:So why are/were you such a Bush supporter? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636621)

One explanation I can think of, is you were a soldier sent to the frontlines. What you saw changed you and made you treasure life more. At the same time, you were prepared to fight for freedom and other ideal values.

The other explanation is, your then-girlfriend saw your Bush and chose you...

Re:Do it. (1)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636493)

"For me, it is quite worth the investment."

Not yet. It didn't pay off for you yet and it is a question if it will ? Those aren't magical cells ...

Re:Do it. (2, Insightful)

ConanG (699649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636543)

Even if he never has to find out whether or not it would work, it's paid off in peace of mind.

Re:Do it. (1)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636605)

Then he can also invest in these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1Y1nwbNMLU&feature=related [youtube.com]

I think, they are much cheaper and who knows, maybe they are also more effective ...

And for Lecithin ... I wish everything will work out right with your newbie ...

Re:Do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636933)

"For me, it is quite worth the investment."

Not yet. It didn't pay off for you yet and it is a question if it will ? Those aren't magical cells ...

Actually, to the extent that the cost equates to cheap peace of mind, the investment has paid off. Just like any insurance.

OTOH, you usually have some specific idea of when/what insurance will pay off and can balance that against your estimate of the chances of loss vs. the cost of the insurance. Since the OP brought up the cost, he seems not to have finished making that calculation and is reasonably looking for more factors on which to make the decision.

FWIW, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a quarter mile from the 1906 trace of the San Andreas fault. I don't carry earthquake insurance. It's extravagantly expensive and has monstrous deductibles and exceptions. So ...?

I am reminded of something I once heard about tornado insurance -- no idea if it's true. I heard that if your roof or walls went, it was proof that you hadn't exercised due caution by opening your doors and windows to minimize the outside/inside pressure differential, so your loss was not covered. However, if you opened them and the house remained intact, all sorts of crap would blow in and debris removal was not covered. Apparently the cost of debris removal was almost as ruinous as having to rebuild the house without insurance.

Re:Do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636523)

I was just going to say that's not so small ... then I realised I was doing the metric conversion the wrong way round (he's just passed a kilogram, for anybody who only speaks metric). At least he's gaining weight - good luck to him!

Re:Do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26637031)

That's a bitch about your son but will *his* cord help him in the future?

When my daughter was born, we thought long and hard about cord banking. From what I read, if your child has some sort of issue that requires stem cell therapy, then that issue is probably present in the banked cord and will be pretty useless. Since we knew we could only have one child, banking meant very little to us; however, if you have multiple children or if a marketplace ever develops for stem cell trading, then go right ahead (in 2002 with the neocons in power, I didn't think that market would ever appear - short sighted on my part)

Re:Do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26637073)

>I'm a father of 4. Our newbie was born at 23 weeks/0 days gestation in December. He isn't due until April 12th. (Doing great, BTW) Birth weight was 1lb 6oz. (now at 2lbs 5oz.)

I don't remember asking... ;)

Re:Do it. (2, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637163)

Wow, 23 weeks! What a great thing that he made it, congratulations :-)

The cost does seem high (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636465)

I know the sky is the limit with our bodies purest and best programmed cells, but for the average young family. ~ $1300 upfront and ~$130 a year is a lot of money. Are there any programs that will let you donate some of your cells for research in exchange for storage of the remaining cells? I wish there were more publicity on this issue.

Re:The cost does seem high (4, Informative)

azadrozny (576352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637053)

Yes, there are donation options. We considered saving the cord blood for both our children, at our expense and through donation, we chose neither option. My wife's obstetrician was very helpful in informing us of all our options.

Like many have pointed out, if something were to happen the cost would be irrelevant. But our research at the time indicated that there are very few uses for cord blood, and it was not something that could be kept for more than 10 years. We decided that the cost was too high given what this "insurance policy" was going to cover.

We decided not to donate after reading the contract's fine print, giving the organization rights to do anything they wanted with the blood. They did not enumerate what types of research they did; this made us feel very uncomfortable. Because there were no restrictions on what could be done with the blood we decided against making the donation.

Done (3, Informative)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636485)

In Italian hospitals we already have the full placenta collected and stored especially for stem cells.
I'm only not sure whether you can claim your own back, though.

Re:Done (3, Informative)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636635)

In Slovenia, you can also put it in the cell bank, if you want, but you must do it on your own. It will be regulated soon, so it will be easier to do it ... I think it can be used for blood marrow transplantation ...

Re:Done (4, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636783)

I'm only not sure whether you can claim your own back, though.

To eat it like a true Scientologist?

Om nom nom nom.

Re:Done (1)

Walzmyn (913748) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636793)

There are ways to donate to a "public" bank in the USA as well. They are used for research and to help other people if they are a match. The problem (well, maybe it's not a "problem") is they are VERY and I mean VERY picky about letting you donate. We had to fill out a huge questionnaire. One asked if you had been stuck with a hypodermic needle accidentally in the last year. Well, the wife's a Veterinarian so that's just about a given. We called and explained that it was a clean needle, just pulled out of the sterile bag, but they didn't care, we were rejected.

Re:Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26637015)

We called and explained that it was a clean needle, just pulled out of the sterile bag, but they didn't care, we were rejected.

Personally, I'd have made the call that it was not a needle-stick within the common meaning (or significance) of the term. It's no worse than a sewing needle stick.

I'm diabetic and have accidentally stuck myself with a needle after using it -- on myself. I would not consider that to be within the area of concern. What am I going to give myself that I haven't already got? It would be more of a cause for alarm if I'd scraped my arm on a rusty nail sticking out of my garage wall.

In any case, I'm sure they weren't going to staple a transcript of your call to the original questionnaire. It could get detached and they'd be stuck (no pun intended) if anything happened downstream to a recipient. Never forget that the basis of everything in America today is fear. Corporations will refuse you your due because of "fear" of a "potential" lawsuit from anyone who "might" "think" they were harmed by the corporation's action. Note that's four degrees worth of weasel words removed from any kind of reality. So inaction is the best salve for their "fear".

Re:Done (1)

fonske (1224340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636849)

Prof. Boogaerts set up the initiative of an umbellical chord bloodbank in Belgium. A bloodbank means you donate blood to help others. This in the same time means it is constantly tested. Two times per months the blood helps someone worldwide. HLA has to match very well in stem cell transplantations. Genes coding for HLA are at the same time the most mutating. A good match is hard. Quality control on these complex procedures is even harder.

This is a scam (4, Insightful)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636531)

Cord blood banking seems to be a scam. I considered it briefly for our kid, but reading quite a bit about it, decided not to do it. Here's why: 1. Stem cells similar to those present in cord blood are easily obtained from our own (adult) blood if/when the need arises. 2. Very low chance that they will be useful to siblings/parents/other relatives. 3. No guarantee of how well these cells survive in the cryogenic environment. No guarantee from the banks of backup plans in case of failure. 4. All fancy stuff (about regenerating organs) from the cells is science fiction so far. 5. Medical science could find alternative ways to cure your conditions by then. 6. The bank guys are great at emotional blackmail --- like giving the greatest gift to your newborn, and being a bad parent otherwise. I had one guy who told me that I might even make money selling it in future. Shame on him.

Re:This is a scam (2, Interesting)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636545)

Sorry, I should have prefaced it by saying that these are my opinions only for commercial ventures. If it's a govt. run thing for use by any needy person, I'd be all for it. Sadly such a set up did not exist where I live.

Re:This is a scam (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636665)

That seems rather odd. Either it's a scam or its not; how does a scam become not-a-scam if it's done with tax money?

-jcr

Re:This is a scam (4, Insightful)

monadicIO (602882) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636693)

If free: can be used for research, doesn't just freeze up somewhere for years. There's a really slim chance it can help someone in need (very slim, though). If not free: some random company is feeding itself on your sense of insecurity.

Re:This is a scam (4, Insightful)

Cymurgh (1462447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636687)

A few years ago I came to the same conclusions as monadiclO, except for two things: I don't think it is a scam, just a very iffy proposition, sometimes shamelessly overhyped. And I did *not* even think suitable cells were available in adult blood (if there's new science since then, all the better!). If you can really afford it, go ahead and agonize. If you already wonder how to afford the baby carriage, I think you can save your family that expense with a clean conscience. Economic stress is not good for children either.

Re:This is a scam (3, Informative)

azadrozny (576352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637093)

3. No guarantee of how well these cells survive in the cryogenic environment.

The literature we received at the time (2003) indicated that the blood could be saved for no more than 10 years.

Save the money for college (2, Insightful)

Morty (32057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636535)

Do some cost/risk/benefit analysis. There is a relatively low probability that your kid will actually need stem cells from the umbilical cord. For this to be useful, (1) your kid would need to have a relatively narrow range of sicknesses, (2) medical science would need to have a mechanism that can utilize umbilical cord stem cells without being able to utilize other cell types; and (3) you would need to be able to afford the gene therapy. If you RTFA, you will see that various organizations recommend not doing this unless there is a history of certain diseases in the family. So is such a relatively low probability worth the expense? Obviously, you know your family history and financial situation better than someone else does.

Meanwhile, college is a very likely expense. So consider setting aside the money into a college fund.

It is also possible to donate the placenta. I hear that some of the donation sites try to do a best-of-both-worlds deal, where the placenta is put on hold for some time (for free) in case the child needs it. If the child doesn't need it by a certain time, the facility can then use it.

I believe it's totally worth it! (2, Informative)

cbailey64 (1382467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636565)

I have a ten month old son and we chose to bank his cord blood. We live in Canada and we used LifeBank. It essentially cost $1,000 to sign up, get the kit, collect the blood, and have it tested. They test for sample quality and such. We then paid $1,800 up front for 18 years of storage. My point is, the cost is $2,800 today and we don't have to think about it again. Our decision was mostly based on it being the cheapest insurance you can buy. Cord blood isn't only potentially useful to your child, but also to any blood relative. It's already being used to treat several forms of Leukemia, various forms of anemia, and a bunch of stuff I don't know what it is, but also helpful helping a patient recover from chemotherapy. Then there's all the current clinical trials on common diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Heart Disease. My wife's family has a history of Cancer, and my family has a history of Heart Disease. I think one of two things will happen: 1) 18 years will go by and we'll never think about it again. Then we'll have to decide if we want to spend $100/year for this 'insurance'. At least we'll better be able to afford it. 2) Something tragic will happen and we'll be able to use our 'insurance' to minimize the damage. If we chose not to bank the blood and something happened that could be mitigated by having it, I can't imagine the grief of saying "why didn't we?" -- Especially when the amazing new computer I bought for the same $2,800 was outdated years earlier. Christopher

Re:I believe it's totally worth it! (2, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636753)

Or the $2800 you invested over 18 years could be worth $15500 as a typical stock investment.

I'm not saying it's a bad investment, but compare it to other things you could do to benefit the kid if you want to do a fair comparison.

Our decision (4, Informative)

Minupla (62455) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636569)

We just went through this. We discussed it with our doctor (who happened to also be the head of obstetricss) his take on it was that it wasn't worth the investment, given the small set of conditions it would help with.

We instead donated our daughter's cord blood to the local Children's hospital, where they will extract the stem cells for research purposes and if her blood matches anyone who currently needs it, it will go to them. Seemed more civic minded then putting the blood into a bank and placing a "reserved" sign on it.

Min

Re:Our decision (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636941)

Same here. Our son was a healthy 9lb. 3oz. at birth, and we saw no need to tax our already meager budget with this. But donating it to the Texas Cord Blood Bank? The opportunity to help someone else? Priceless.

Re:Our decision (5, Insightful)

jvolk (229717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637075)

Yes, we chose to do the same thing. There are several advantages to this, namely:

1) It is free vs. very expensive

2) The blood is banked for anyone to use - this means that YOU can use it too if you need it - assuming nobody else has used it already. In general, the likelihood of someone else using your cord blood is pretty slim.

3) There are a great many genetic diseases for which your cord blood will be of no use - because these cells contain the same defect your child already has.

4) You get the benefit of knowing you could be saving a child who otherwise may not be saved.

Of course, another big drawback is that (at least in my area), the cord blood needs to be harvested immediately. If your child is born in the middle of the night, the collection folks obviously aren't working (public/non-profit funding I suppose)...so then your cord blood is gone. Luckily for me, mine was born 11am on a Thursday, so that wasn't a problem.

Advice we got (5, Insightful)

Mag7 (69118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636585)

Donate it. There's not enough blood in a single cord to be useful for transfusion purposes. You don't need your own cord blood for the expected applications of cord blood (i.e. stem cell therapies).

It's more useful now to researchers, or even more practical- in combination with other cord donations to treat a patient with leukaemia (or a number of other diseases [sch.edu.au] ) now.

Donate it. Consider it a "pay it forward" situtation.

Sadly we wanted to donate both our kids cords, but the private hospital we used was not part of the national cord blood bank program.

Not worth it (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636591)

In most cases where that blood could help, the very own sample is unusable, due to having the same defect that caused the illness. Also the amount of stem cells from one sample is not enough very soon.

Voluntary sending it to public bank makes more sense from the technical viewpoint, but getting it financed is another matter - you'd hardly shell out $1000 for that.

Private banks are basically a scam, you pay for something that will hardly help anyone.

Before I read this story (2, Funny)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636597)

/. invited me to drink from the firehose>.> I hope there isn't some type of vampiric code running here.

There was an option for us to put it in for free. (2, Informative)

I!heartU (708807) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636601)

Basiclly if you put it in for free, they may use it they may not. If the kid needed it later they'd try to find it. We opted for that but there wasn't enough in the cord anyway so it was all moot.

There's good advice in the article you cite (3, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636607)

'The primary reason that parents consider banking their newborn's cord blood is because they have a child or close relative with or a family medical history of diseases that can be treated with bone marrow transplants. Some diseases that more commonly involve bone marrow transplants include certain kinds of leukemia or lymphoma, aplastic anemia, severe sickle cell anemia, and severe combined immune deficiency.

The odds that the average baby without risk factors will ever use his or her own banked cord blood is considered low; however, no accurate estimates exist at this time.'

Having said that, if this had been an option when my kids were born, I've have probably done it. Compared with what kids cost you over time, 1000 is peanuts.

How about donating it? (4, Insightful)

damg (906401) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636697)

It's free to donate it [charityguide.org] and you know it actually gets put to good use rather than sitting in a blood bank. Plus I think you get some real life karma for it. Well either way, don't let the doctor discard it (like usually happens).

This is part of the Baby Industrial Complex (2, Insightful)

halfhaggis (639074) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636699)

FEAR is a marketing tool for the Baby Industrial Complex, and it starts with this umbilical cord bullshit. They'll want you to buy all manner of unnecessary items and services, because you'll think that if you don't your child is surely doomed! Read this amusing article about it [wordpress.com]

Where is the science? (1)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636705)

Until there aren't any proven therapies developed you would be wasting your money.

Right now we have a vague promise at best that therapies for certain diseases could be found, but nothing else.

Goverment should collect stem cells for FREE (1)

messner_007 (1042060) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636713)

So we would have national blood cells banks for treating blood marrow cancers. It it easy and cheap way to collect the cells ...

You can the use it in two ways:

1. for avto-transplantation in case the person who donated the cells gets leukaemia

2. for blood donor transplantation, when someone who is close match to the donor gets leukemia.

In my opinion, this wouldn't cost much ... and we are already doing this in some European countries, although we are collecting cells from volunteering adults in a more expensive way.

What my wife and I did (4, Insightful)

Smiling_Jack (673353) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636723)

A co-worker of my pointed me to a group that would collect the umbilical cord and blood for research use. It didn't cost a dime: they mailed us a little collection kit which we gave to the delivery room doctor, and he packaged everything up and mailed it. Now, granted, it's not earmarked for our kid's personal use. But it _is_ going towards stem cell research, which in my mind is a much more useful way to use cord blood at this juncture. Unless you have some family medical history for a condition that has a proven stem cell treatment, research is a good use for the cord blood, rather than spending a non-trivial amount of money renting freezer space. Unfortunately I don't have a website for the group we used: my co-worker gave me a pamphlet with a phone number on it. But I'm sure a quick search should turn up groups that will do free cord blood collecting for research, if you choose to go that route.

Some footballers do this with thir childs cord (1)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636725)

The Times reports that "They are freezing the cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of their babies as a possible future cure for cartilage and ligament problems. Stem cells can be used to regenerate damaged organs and tissue because they are the earliest form of cells." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article620835.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Just took a course at the university... (1)

T'hain Esh Kelch (756041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636727)

...On developmental biology and stem cells. My teacher is currently doing research on stem cells, and has been doing this for several years, so she is quite into the whole subject.

Anyway, we discussed this particular matter into detail, and her verdict (And ours after listening to her) was very clear: It is a waste of money.

There are much more pontential (And it is cheaper) to use somatic stem cells, or just by doing nuclear transfer from a somatic cell to a donor egg, you can get pluripotent stemcells this way.

If it's a boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636733)

If it's a boy, please don't circumcise him. http://www.nocirc.org/ [nocirc.org]

We dontated ours.... (1)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636739)

I've never heard of the exact thing you're talking about - I suspect it's a USA only thing.

But we were given the chance to donate the umbilical cord blood to help with research (Stem Cell in particular). And why wouldn't we do it? Helps others, and something we obviously won't be using ourselves. That was 11 months ago.

I suspect what you're talking about is some sort of scheme where a third party stores the blood "just in case" (the same sort of "just in case" as freezing your body when you die) - the hope is that possibly in the future it will help your child - though currently there's no known proven benefits.

If that's the case - may I suggest donating the blood to the appropriate people. That way - we all benefit. And you're not ripped off.

Mike

Regardless the Risk and Cost (2, Interesting)

Grey_Coder (687924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636749)

In 2007 I lost my daughter of 22 to leukemia. In my opinion saving the umbilical cord is a no brainer. Yes, you must save it or later possibily spend the rest of your life with the burden of knowing that you could have.

Re:Regardless the Risk and Cost (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637083)

First, my condolences. Parents should never have to outlive their children.

Second, the tech has changed drastically. They now have the ability to change a regular cell into a stem cell. Due to the issues concerning the use of regular stem cells, I am sure that within 4 more years, this is be normal and easy to do. To be honest, my wife and I thought about it 2 years ago, but decided against it for the reason above.

Cord blood provides adult stem cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636797)

Obama's feelings on *embryonic* stem cells are not relevant.
Cord blood provides *adult* stem cells, for which there are actual uses currently known.

This is a very significant distinction.

we donate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636813)

In Spain, we have the choice of keeping the blood in a bank, destroying it or donating it for medical use and research. The first costs 200 EUR for the extraction, then 60 EUR each month. The other two are for free.
My first kid was born recently and we decided to donate. And I believe it's what most parents do here.

Gamble. (1, Redundant)

ledow (319597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636835)

It's a touchy subject and it depends on your beliefs and how you go about doing it.

Does donating cord blood to a public entity that can then use it to help anyone really help? Yes, quite obviously, which is why blood banks of any sort exist. If they take it from you and store it for free... it means THEY NEED IT (think regular blood donations, where they sometimes even PAY YOU for your blood). Be even kinder and donate it to somewhere that pays you, but refuse the payment.

If they charge you to store it, it means they don't believe they'll see a way to use most of it so they have to pay for storage in the hopes that "someday" they'll find a use (they are that confident in this, that YOU are the one paying for that) or they're profiteering. This is like those people who cryogenically preserve themselves in the hope that "one day", they'll be a cure for their illness (i.e. death). The cryo companies love it because you don't get any complaining customers and you can take their money and blatantly make a profit on it for decades after their death by having a cold warehouse and doing bugger all.

Does earmarking your own cord blood for use only by yourself and/or relatives and paying thousands for the privilege really help? Probably not. Your own cord blood is in such small amounts that it's of little use on its own, so you'll be either be "mixing" it with others cord blood ("all take and no give" ring a bell?), or a way will be found to multiply your own (so why did you have to be protective of it when it could have been used in other people without affecting your own prospects of storing it?). To quote the article: "donor cord-blood stem cells do not need to be a perfect match to create a successful bone marrow transplant." So if you "earmark" your cord blood for storage for yourself, then you are actually denying it to someone else. Can you live with that knowledge? That someone out there is denied life because you have denied giving blood to them? What if you decide NOT to bank the blood but yet your newborn then needs it... are you going to be righteous and not take anybody else's cord blood either?

Basically, as with all things, if it's in the long-term interests of your health, you'll be able to add to a national blood bank for free (or be paid for it). If you're paying for the "privilege", then you're into a large grey area. Like insurance, the chances are that most of the people who pay will NEVER use it and it'll end up being disposed of, unused. If you're one of the lucky ones that does use it and decided to bank it, it's fantastic, but you are gambling on a long shot with tiny probabilities (unless you know something we don't). It's not nice to talk of "gambling with lives" but we do it everyday. Is it safer to let your child learn to cross the road on their own, or to mollycoddle them and lead them across each day yourself? Obviously, a child is more at risk making their own judgements but the payoff is their independence. Some children *WILL* die because they tried to cross on their own where an adult would know was too dangerous, but you have to weigh things up on larger scales.

In the long run, would that money be better off in a college account, or providing more trips to the park when the child is younger, or buying her a nicer toy at Christmas, or giving her parents some time off one day when she's screaming the house down so they can come back and deal with her refreshed and happy during the critical early years?

I'm a father of a three-month-old girl (the first baby for both me and my wife). I love her to bits and am especially relieved that she's healthy (her mother is a bit of a health-mess, genetically speaking!). I'd much rather stick the money in her Child Trust Fund, or use it to make sure she has a good car seat, or use it to pay for my mother (who occasionally babysits) to stop smoking entirely rather than just "when she's around the baby", or use it to buy her some more bottles so that mummy doesn't have to spend so much time washing them, or even take mummy out one evening and getting a babysitter. In the long run, on average, the gamble from doing whichever of those things that I can afford to will tend to pay off more than if I had banked her cord-blood.

Sure, the cord-blood could, potentially, save her life if she ends up with a particular version of a particular condition, but in the absence of any evidence that she's somehow *significantly* more at risk from that, she'll end up (on average) better off from being able to grow up in a *slightly* happier family with *slightly* less stress.

It's all a gamble. Are you the sort of person who insures everything you own, even if you know it might end up costing you more than it would just to replace everything once every few years? Are you party to some knowledge that your child is particularly at risk from any of these conditions? Are you as careful about other decisions involving the same amounts of money - would you do this and then find excuses not to send your child to college? It all depends on you.

Offtopic slightly, someone else commented that their family had "a history of heart disease", their wife's "a history of cancer". We ALL have those in our family, because they are the primary cause of death for most people in developed countries. It means, basically, that the person lived longer than their body was designed for (and in the case of cancer, this may actually be truer than you think - statistical analysis suggests that things like skin cancer are contracted purely by the length of and intensity of exposure to damaging light, so the longer you live, the more likely a random cell goes "rogue" - it can be completely random based on whether a particularly powerful photon hits a cell in just the right place to damage it and disable its built-in reproductive limit to turn it into cancer) - it doesn't mean that there's a genetic problem which can be "fixed", either now or in the future. It doesn't even mean that there's something "wrong" with your families genes (that sort of thinking logically leads to ethnic cleansing! Slightly more susceptible to violent tendancies - I'm sorry, you can't be born.).

We *tried* to donate (1)

TardisX (15222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636847)

We wanted to donate umbilical cord blood from our first-borns birth. Unfortunately no one was on hand to do it because it was a Saturday. What a waste...

Might cost less... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636871)

If it's a boy, you can save at least $100 by not mutilating his penis. That gets you 10% of the way there!

Consider it insurance... (1, Interesting)

Genda (560240) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636889)

In the next few years we'll have effective cold sleep abilities (initiated by hydrogen sulfide exposure), which will allow us to put the terminally ill into suspended animation until the tech arrives that can cure the illness. This is not to be confused with cryogenics. The body is not frozen, so no problems with ice damage. The blood is simply replaced with an oxygenated superfluid, and the body is brought down to a near freezing temperature. Then later brought back to normal temps once a cure is found.

So having stem cells available for the next 3-5 years is a good answer to a fair number cancers, internal organ damage, brain or spinal damage, or any damage requiring significant regeneration. 10-20 years from now, we'll be able to trigger stem cells at will, create naked stem cells, nanotech structural replacements for cells/tissues/organs/etc. As the tech advances the need for keeping stem cells will quickly come and go. Better solutions to the human condition will render stem cell technologies obsolete within a decade of perfecting the technology (though an additional decade of use may remain for those unable to pay for cutting edge services.)

We did it here in Australia (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 5 years ago | (#26636983)

When our (now 11 month old) Son was born it was an easy decision.
Over here it costs around AU$3k to store it for personal use until he is 21 years old.
Then if he still wants to keep it he has to pay extra.

It was even easier for us because the current Government was giving out a AU$4.5k Baby bonus (a once of cash lump sum). We used it for that... it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, and I suspect it still was.

Something else you should know, there are public blood banks that will store it much cheaper. The down side of this is that you have no guarantee of getting _your_ blood back. It's public so that anyone who is in need can use it.
We went private.

Donate it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26636989)

Donate it to the public bank. If this is not possible for any reason, pay and store it in a private bank. I did it, just in case, like insurance: you pay but you never want to use it.

Tried it in the UK (1)

Daemonic (575884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637039)

We wanted to go with Richard Branson's outfit - www.virginhealthbank.com, which actually seems cheaper than the examples given in the article.

We've no odd family history, we just thought the potential uses of stem cells in the future might be worth having a stock of them guaranteed not to be rejected.

We had to arrange for an outside contractor to come in to the NHS hospital to collect the samples. The NHS staff wouldn't do it. That means that part way through labour you've got to decide it's a good time to phone the agency and have them send someone over in time for delivery.

Then when they do arrive, they're all businesslike, and trying to explain stuff. "Good morning, I'm from the agency." and of course they're met with "I don't care. I'm in the middle of f**king labour, just shut up and get on with it."

I don't think the phlebotomist had done it before, and in the end it failed. We left our baby attached for a while, because it seemed a good idea for other reasons. Sadly, that meant that by the time the phlebotomist tried to collect the blood, there wasn't really any left - the sample was too small/clogged/dried to be serviceable, so there was nothing for us to bank.

I really hope I don't end up regretting that.

Cost vs Benefit (1)

drunkenoafoffofb3ta (1262668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637055)

You have to weigh up the cost of storage vs likelihood of use. Two points to consider. 1. I'm not convinced these cells will remain viable in storage for anything like the lifetime of your child. 2. The longer your offspring live, the more likely they'd be to need this. If they hit >60 years, for example. Of course, if I was in that position, rationality would go out the window. I'd pay it, if I could afford it, for the peace of mind-- even though I never knew the service existed until 3 minutes ago.

Public Banking (4, Insightful)

alvin67 (968189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637099)

We donated the cord blood from both of our daughters to a public cord blood bank. There is no cost, and it is much more likely that someone will get use from it.

Might be worth the money (1)

varghan (834564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637101)

First of all, disclaimer: I am a molecular biologist working on gene therapy of the blood system. Cord blood banking has been around for quite a while. In the early days, storing cord blood wasn't a very viable option, mainly because we didn't know how to grow a sufficient number of blood stem cells from the tiny amount of cells in a cord blood sample. This question seem to have been solved and cord blood transplants are used in leukemia cases [nih.gov] What makes cord blood banking even more interesting IMHO, is all the research going on in the reprogramming field [nih.gov] People try to 'reset' a cell to a 'embryonic' state and guide its development to the desired tissue (liver and pancreatic tissues are currently under investigation) For these kinds of approaches, cord blood cells might be very suitable, since it essentially is 'newborn' tissue. In the end, it would be really good to have some cord blood saved if you need it for treatment 10-20 years from now. The chances of needing it might, however, be quite slim.

The deal isn't so great... (1)

jaypifer (64463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637133)

Read the fine print. You may also be charged an annual fee on top of your initial investment and there may be no guarantee that your infant's cord blood will be used.

Yes, in the future they *may* use the cord blood of an infant. And they *may* use something else. The fact that the cord blood will likely be unused is conspicuously absent from their literature. Odds are, it will be something else.

I spent quite some time waiting for my wife for appointments for our first child and came to the conclusion that this was a medical industry version of FUD.

Everyone wants their child to have the best care and is willing to spend money to get it. Cord blood advertising is based on fear and that fear motivates. Of course, there is always an element of truth to their advertisements (relying on "statistics"), but it is up to the consumer to judge how relevant it is.

There is a broader trend of oversafety for children that you will encounter further down the road where companies will convince you that you *need* their product to protect your child. All these companies will happily take your money.

Remember, even though you want to you can't protect your child 100% from everything. It's one of those parental calls you have to make.

We decided not to (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637137)

Between now and a month from now, I'll hopefully be a parent too. We've also had this discussion. Eventually we decided not to do this, because it's just very unlikely to ever help.

The technology is unproven. The amount of blood taken is quite small so it's likely to only be useful in the first few years of the child's life, any later there would be more needed. In the few cases where these cells could be used, donors can often be found. And in a few more years, we should be able to get stem cells from other tissue.

In total, we decided it wasn't worth it.

One useful page for us was this [skepp.be] , but it's in Dutch.

Do NOT use a private cord blood bank (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637155)

I have a 7 week old, and we used the New England Cord Blood bank because they are public. Private cord blood banks are a scam, and they are immoral. Somewhere I read somewhere that the American Board of Pediatrics quasi-condones the practice. You should be able to find a public cord blood bank that is available to you wherever you are in the US. Many states have laws requiring that local banks take your donation for free.

As far as public/private is concerned:

1) There are many diseases where you CANNOT use your own cord blood cells to treat them.

2) Since the odds of you needing the cells is low, it is preferable to bank them publicly so that if you don't use them, someone else can. Likewise, if you need someone else's cells, you have access to them.

Matching stem cells is comparable to matching bone marrow. It's not as easy as matching blood types. But once there is a large enough public supply, people should find stems cells readily available for treatments.

Many doctors offices and birthing centers will try to sell you on private banking. Don't listen: Many of them aren't even aware that public banking is possible, or don't mention it even if they do know. The salesman of the private banks come around and give them flyers and I-don't-know-what-else-kickbacks so the offices are biased. If you ask an OB/GYN what use the stem cells are, it is like asking them to bet on a roulette wheel. Not only is it unlikely now, but we have no idea what future treatments, IF ANY, will be available from the cells. So medically, there's just no good answer on the issue.

Check out the Wikipedia articles on this subject, and follow the links to the various studies. You'll find lots of good information there. If you can't find a public cord blood bank near you, check your state laws or contact your local hospital and ask.

Bank Once for Multiple Children (1)

indytx (825419) | more than 5 years ago | (#26637165)

My understanding is that while the current uses for cord blood are limited . . .

That may be true. Some of the potential maladies that could be cured by the stem cells in cord blood may be present in the banked blood, for instance genetic disorders. However, if you have more than one child, and you have blood banked for one of your other children, the other child's banked blood could be useful.

I, too, was skeptical of banking my child's blood due to the high cost, but our pediatrician and our OB/GYN both banked their first child's blood and thought it was a good idea. Ultimately, we chose to follow the examples of our doctors. You only get one shot at this. If it's not going to push you to insolvency, you should at least consider it. Some of the maladies which could one day be treated using cord blood may not respond to anything else. Also, the high initial cost can, with most of the cord blood companies, be paid with monthly payments over a few years.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?