What You Need to Know About Storing Cord Blood and Baby Teeth

By now you’ve probably heard about the research that is going into stem cells. If you’re a new parent or a parent-to-be, there’s a good chance you’ve heard or read about banking your child’s cord blood and baby teeth. Both of these contain stem cells that could be life saving.

Stem cells are one of the most amazing entities in nature. Under the right circumstances, they have the ability to transform into mature cells with specific functions. It’s this unique characteristic that makes stem cells a promising cancer treatment and also a solution for repairing tissue damage. However, as we age the quality of our stem cells declines. That’s why emphasis is put on collecting stem cells at birth and early in life.

As you can imagine, handling and storing cord blood and baby teeth to preserve the stem cells is a complex, highly regulated process. One of the most important factors is having a secure, regulatory compliant biorepository for storing the biological matter. However, every step of the way it has to be handled with care and carefully tracked.

All this comes at a significant expense, which leaves parents wondering if saving cord blood and baby teeth is really worth it.

The Basics of Banking Cord Blood and Baby Teeth

Many people are looking at cord blood and baby teeth storage as another form of health insurance that could save a family member’s life. Stem cell therapies and treatments are continuously improving now that the federal government is heavily investing in the science.

It should be noted that the stem cells from cord blood and baby teeth aren’t the same as the highly controversial embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are even more adaptable, however their collection destroys the embryo that they are pulled from. Baby teeth and cord blood stem cells come from biomaterial that would otherwise be discarded.

Another important thing for parents to understand is stem cells aren’t a silver bullet. Cord blood stem cells have been used to treat diseases since 1988. However, some genetic diseases can’t be treated. When stem cells can be used there’s less risk of rejection, but it’s still a possibility. Using stem cells from a child to treat their sibling is effective about 25% of the time. Fortunately, the odds of a child actually needing to use their banked stem cells is about one in 2,700.

What Stem Cells Can Treat

In actuality, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of stem cells’ therapeutic possibilities. Based on what scientists do know stem cells could possibly treat dozens of diseases and injuries, including:

  • ·  Cancer

  • ·  Parkinson’s Disease

  • ·  Spinal Cord Injuries

  • ·  Diabetes

  • ·  Stroke

  • ·  Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • ·  Heart Disease

  • ·  Osteoporosis

  • ·  Burns

As the research continues the treatments could expand significantly. This is particularly true should embryonic stem cell therapy be expanded. When you make the decision to store stem cells today they could be used for advanced therapies that won’t be developed for years to come.

Cord Blood vs. Baby Teeth

Ideally, you’ll be in a position to store both baby teeth and cord blood, but many people wonder if one is better than the other. The answer comes down to what disease or injury needs to be treated.

Baby teeth contain dental stem cells, which are mesenchymal stem cells. Research has shown dental stem cells can grow into dental tissue, bone, muscle and cartilage. Two of the benefits of baby teeth stem cells are it’s easy to extract the cells and they are plentiful.

Cord blood, matter found in the umbilical cord after birth, is extracted and stored at a specialized biorepository shortly after birth. The hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood are being used to improve the treatment of blood-related diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, anemia and myelodysplasia. Due to the process involved and the need to immediately act after the delivery, parents must arrange for blood cord banking prior to giving birth. The hospital must also be equipped to collect the cord blood.

It should be noted that umbilical cords produce only a small amount of cord blood. The amount of stem cells found in cord blood could be sufficient for treating blood-related disorders in children, but it may not be enough to treat an adult.

The Cost of Long-Term Cord Blood and Baby Teeth Storage

Cryogenically storing stem cells from cord blood and baby teeth has to be looked at as a long-term expense. Doctors are confident that they can be safely stored and used for at least 10 years. You never know when you or one of your children may need to utilize the stored stem cells so plan for a decade of banking.

There are two costs associated with storing cord blood. First, there is the initial fee for collecting the cord blood after delivery and initiating storage. This charge can be up to $3,000 depending on your hospital and the bank where the cord blood will be stored. The annual fee for continuing storage is typically around $150.

The process for collecting baby teeth stem cells is significantly easier. Once you join a tooth stem cell bank you will be given a collection kit. When the tooth falls out you collect it and send it to the bank where their staff will extract the stem cells. The initial fee for collection and stem cell extraction is typically $1,500-2,000. The storage fee is usually around $10 a month.

It’s recommended that parents collect and store more than one baby tooth if possible. If teeth for a single child are collected and banked at the same time some facilities will charge a single fee for all of them.

Stem cell banking facilities have been around for a few decades now, which means parents have a number of storage options. It’s important to consider factors like security, reliability, facility quality and regulatory adherence before price. Saving cord blood and baby teeth isn’t cheap, but it’s an important investment in the health of your family.

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