The benefits of cord blood and its future potential has not been lost on concerned parents, particularly ones who know they have a history of genetic illness in one or both branches of the family. In order to ensure that their child can survive some of the most deadly diseases and debilitating conditions, an entire industry has grown up around the "banking" of blood from the baby's umbilical cord.
Banking a child's cord blood is becoming a more frequently requested and common-sense hedge against disease or illness in the future. It is also an investment in the possibility of taking part in
2. Bone marrow stem cells are still very useful in other areas, including therapies mentioned in this book. They are the most commonly harvested and utilized source of adult stem cells today.
any future benefits that are discovered in the field of stem cell research, particular adult stem cell research. As it stands today, cord blood technology can be used to fight more than seventy types of genetic illnesses, from a mere 50- to 75-milliliter sample of cord blood—which is only about enough blood to fill a large shot glass.
An additional benefit is that the entire family may benefit from the banking procedure. Cord blood stem cells are matched to the child's family lineage and are more likely than bone marrow to be a suitable match for family members. There is a 25 percent chance, for example, that cord blood will be a perfect match for a sibling.
This is important because some studies have shown that survival rates double when a patient receives a stem cell transplant from a relative. And of course, families who have their babies' stem cells banked have, with relative ease, positioned themselves to take advantage of the medical breakthroughs that will eventually come from stem cell research.
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