Disadvantages to Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood banks continue advertising the dozens of medical conditions that benefit from treatments used with the stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Many future parents contemplate the prospect of taking advantage of this potentially life-saving option. However, cord blood banking also has a number of disadvantages that couples must also take into consideration before arriving at a final decision.
Cord blood banks are either private or public. Parents may believe that saving cord blood in a private bank may prove useful at some point in the future. Nonetheless, parents must consider the exorbitant cost. Private facilities generally require initial collection and storage fees that easily total a few thousands dollars. Depending on the facility, annual storage fees after the initial investment may cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Health insurance might agree to cover the expense if the blood is required for a current medical condition. Long-term storage does not qualify. The storage cost is also only tax deductible as a medical expense if the culmination of all annual medical expenses exceeds 7.5 percent of the adjusted gross income. If seriously considering cord blood storage, choose a public facility. Public banks store the blood at no cost to the donating family. Unfortunately, the expense involved in operating such a facility means that public banks are not always locally available.
Blood Bank Misconceptions
Cord blood bank companies and medical associations often claim that storing the blood is a type of insurance. Under some circumstances this idea may hold true if families have a strong disposition toward certain conditions or disease processes. However, the blood cells within the blood may already contain the disease that an infant later develops, which makes the cord blood useless. Cord blood might prove beneficial when donated by a known healthy sibling, other family member or from a public facility.
The amount of cord blood collected and stored remains relatively small in volume and may not contain enough stem cells to adequately treat anyone weighing more than 90 pounds. For this reason, parents should also exercise caution when banks claim that storage protocol at a facility ensures that fewer units are discarded. Unwitting families may continue unnecessarily paying for storage on cord blood that serves no purpose.
Statistics suggest that the likelihood a family will need cord blood for medical treatment varies from one in 1,000 to one in 200,000. Though research continues on the possibilities of developing treatments using stem cells obtained from cord blood, the chance that a family requires the blood in the future remains unpredictable. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend private cord blood banking facilities.
After enduring the expense of storing the blood and a child develops a need for the stem cells, there is no guarantee that the treatment will offer success the first time. This means that the family may need to turn to a public facility for additional donations. Bone marrow transplants from a healthy family member or other matching donor remains a viable alternative.