According to my research, there certainly are potential benefits to
having compatible stem cells from cord blood available to treat
various medical conditions. However, unless one is a member of
particular ethnic groups who would have difficulty finding a match in
a public bank, it is unlikely the expense of banking cord blood
privately is worthwhile. Furthermore, a national public cord blood
bank is in the process of being developed in the United States.
Certainly, making a donation to the public cord blood bank would be
potentially useful for your child and as a service to society as a
whole. The decision to bank cord blood privately is a difficult one
given the significant expense involved.
I have provided a number of resources below describing the pros & cons
of cord blood banking.
"At Duke University, doctors used umbilical-cord blood to save babies
born with Krabbe disease, a rare and usually fatal genetic disorder.
The illness, which prevents brain development and causes rapid
deterioration and death, was immediately halted by transplanting
another baby's cord blood--and the stem cells it contained-- into
infants with the Krabbe defect. "
"The Year in Medicine" By SORA SONG, ALICE PARK, COCO MASTERS, Time
(December 5, 2005) http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1134763,00.html
"There's been a lot of news lately about the blood that remains in
umbilical cords after they are cut; this fluid is a rich source of
stem cells that can be used to treat a variety of diseases, from
leukemia to sickle-cell anemia. Two weeks ago, the New England Journal
of Medicine reported that children with a fatal genetic disorder
called Krabbe's disease had been saved with stem cells from cord
"The Cord Blood Registry, which claims to be the oldest and largest of
these blood banks, says it has frozen more than 300,000 samples at
$1,975 a pop--plus a $125 storage fee every year thereafter. "
"What I learned is that unless your children are African Americans or
some other minority who might have trouble finding a good genetic
match, the odds that they will ever need their own cord blood are
minuscule--perhaps 1 in 100,000. Since the early 1990s, when the Cord
Blood Registry began taking deposits, only 37 families have come back
to make withdrawals. "That's a very expensive insurance policy," says
Dr. Stephen Feig, executive vice chairman of pediatrics at UCLA.
On the other hand, there is a real need for cord-blood deposits at the
22 public banks that do their best to make stem cells available to
anyone who needs them. That's where my wife and I are going to put our
child's cord blood. For a list of donation sites, go to marrow.org."
"Tangled Cord" by Dr. Sanjay Gupta with reporting by A. Chris Gajilan,
Time (June 6, 2005) http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1066952,00.html
"President Bush signed legislation last month to establish a national
donor bank of umbilical-cord blood to complement the existing
bone-marrow registry. The signing was good news to just about everyone
but people who run private cord banks.
That's because they owe their success to convincing pregnant women not
to donate to public cord-blood supplies, but to pay for storage for
their own babies' future use. With the new network in place, 90
percent of Americans who need cord-blood or bone-marrow stem cells for
conditions like leukemia, lymphomas and sickle-cell disease can find a
matching donor in a public bank. The bill is expected to triple the
existing supply of cord blood, making it available to anyone who
matches a donor's tissue traits."
"Law Annoys Private Cord Banks" by Suzanne Leigh, Wired (January 31,
Another source with a great deal of information on the subject is
"Pros & Cons of Banking Cord Blood" by Frances Verter, A Parent's
Guide to Cord Blood Banks... with emphasis on how to evaluate private
bank services (December 29, 2005)
Search terms: "cord blood"