15th November marks World Cord Blood Day. The focus for 2017 is education and awareness around cord blood and its uses.

Unfortunately, there are currently not enough provisions in place at every hospital to collect and store cord blood

Unfortunately, there are currently not enough provisions in place at every hospital to collect and store cord blood

Here are ten things you may not know about cord blood, but you definitely should:

Cord blood is collected for the stem cells it contains

The blood collected from the umbilical cord at birth is a rich source of stem cells. These stem cells are an important factor in medical research. Recently, with the evolution of regenerative medicine, cord blood has been used in clinical trials to treat conditions that have significant worldwide impact for example neurological, endocrinological, and cardiological disease.

It can currently be used to treat more than 80 life-threatening conditions

Conditions including leukaemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anaemia and cerebral palsy can be treated with cord blood transplants.

Cord blood is often thrown away as medical waste

Unfortunately, there are currently not enough provisions in place at every hospital to collect and store cord blood, nor do enough parents know that there is the option for this. The result is that the precious stem cells contained in cord blood are going to waste.

1 in 3 parents do not know that they can store their child’s cord blood and tissue

But 78% of parents think more should be done to educate them about it, according to the results of a YouGov survey run in September 2014.

Collecting cord blood and tissue is quick and painless

Hearing the phrase “stem cells” can be scary to parents – due to lack of awareness around the topic, there is controversy surrounding the collection of them. However the collection of cord blood and tissue takes place immediately after birth, does not interfere with the birthing process and poses no risks to either the mother or baby.

There have been more than 700,000 cord blood collections worldwide

As a result of these, approximately 50,000 hematopoietic stem cells transplants are undertaken per year with around 400-500 of these transplants in Europe.

Stem cells from cord blood can potentially be used for the child’s sibling

Storing cord blood is not just a form of health insurance for your child’s future; if their siblings are genetic matches, the stem cells collected in the cord blood can be used in treatment of their conditions too.

15th November is World Cord Blood Day

In order to increase awareness around the importance of educating prospective parents about the benefits of collecting and storing cord blood at birth, 14th November has been marked as World Cord Blood Day. Interested parties will be sharing information and stats on cord blood across social media under the hashtag #WCBD17. One of the companies supporting the day is Smart Cells, the UK’s first private cord blood bank who are running a social campaign to heighten awareness on the topic.

Smart Cells have released 19 samples in 6 countries

This is more than any other private cord blood company in the UK where their head office and own processing and storage facility is based near Heathrow Airport. These samples have been used in transplants around the world, including a 2.5 year old sibling who received treatment using stem cells from cord blood for sickle cell disease in March 2015 in New Delhi and 3 year old Sasha Browne, believed to be the first British child to be infused with her own umbilical cord blood cells to treat her cerebral palsy.

Private cord blood collection is available in some NHS hospitals

The cord blood collection and storage service is now accessible to parents giving birth in some NHS hospital. In the last few months, Smart Cells announced an association with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in September 2017 meaning maternity patients in St James’s University Hospital, Leeds General Infirmary and Wharfedale Hospital are now provided with information on collecting and storing their baby’s cord blood. 

Find out more about World Cord Blood Day 2017 at WorldCordBloodDay.org or visit SmartCells.com/Baby for more information.