Cord Blood Awareness Month was a campaign all around the world throughout July, and the campaign officially comes to an end today. But experts encourage families to continue learning more about cord blood in August and beyond as the benefits from banked cord blood stem cells can be extracted year round.
On the last day of the official campaign, the FDA is making one final push encouraging North American families to become cord blood educated. Included in the FDA’s efforts are explanations and benefits about cord blood, details about the collection process, and advice for families when considering cord blood banking.
Dr. Keith Wonnacott is Chief of the Cellular Therapies Branch at the FDA, who reminds families that cord blood is a rich source of valuable hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These HSCs have the ability to develop into oxygen carrying blood cells or disease fighting immune cells that could be therapeutic against clinical diseases or disorders.
Dr. Wonnacott also stressed that the collection process is safe for both the mother and the baby as it occurs after the baby is born.
“Because cord blood is typically collected after the baby is delivered and the cord is cut, the procedure is generally safe for the mother and baby.”
Dr. Wonnacott also clarified that cord blood is not a cure all for any disease, and that families should be skeptical of any promotional materials that suggest miracle work. Cord blood has been an effective option for therapy against blood diseases like leukaemia or lymphoma in the past, and clinical trials testing cord blood’s effectiveness against other conditions are ongoing today.
But Dr. Wonnacott advises families to remember cord blood stem cells are options for therapy delivered through transplantation.
“Cord blood can be used for transplantation in people who need regeneration, that is, ‘regrowth,’ of these blood-forming cells.”
Families may also speak to cord blood experts at their local hospitals for more information about cord blood collection or transplantation.