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7 things to know before banking your newborn’s cord blood

5. So, should I bank my baby's cord blood?

7 things to know before banking your newborn’s cord blood

Cord blood banking is one of the many decision you'll make while you anticipate the arrival of your baby. And it's often not an easy decision to make. So, we're breaking it down to help you make the best decision for your family.

Here are the six things you need to know about banking umbilical cord blood.

1. What is cord blood banking?

The blood in a baby's umbilical cord contains blood stem cells, which can grow up to be almost any kind of blood or immune cell they're coaxed to be. These stem cells can be banked at the time of your baby's birth, and later used to treat conditions such as leukemia, anemia, sickle cell anemia and other rare diseases.

You may have seen brochures in your doctor's or midwife's office about the value of storing your baby's stem cells. If your child or their sibling develops a rare disease or some other condition with few treatment options, cord blood in the freezer may come to the rescue.

But just how useful those cells might be for one of your children is hard to predict, and cord-blood banking companies often overstate the possibilities. It's true that thousands of stem cell transplants have treated blood, immune and metabolic diseases since the late 1980s, but it is important to remember that there are only a handful of diseases that they are able to treat—at least right now.

2. What do stem cells do?

Until the discovery of cord blood stem cells, the only transplants that could treat conditions such as leukemia were bone marrow transplants, which carry a higher risk of blood-borne infections or the body's immune system rejecting the transplant.

Stem cells offer a less risky alternative, but only for children. There aren't enough cells in cord blood for an adult, and there are enough only for one transplant.

The process of stem cells “growing up" also takes longer after one of these transplants, which means there's a longer window of possibility for infection.

3. So if my child has leukemia, their stem cells might help them?

Not necessarily. If your child's immune cells couldn't fight the leukemia already, more of the same cells are unlikely to help. Similarly, stem cells can't help much if your child has a genetic disorder, because their stem cells have the same genes—that being said, research is under way to see if this could change in the future.

Stem cells are more likely to help siblings, but that's only if the blood matches—a 25% chance.

4. What other conditions can stem cell transplants treat?

Currently, stem cells can successfully treat five types of conditions in people: blood cancers, bone marrow failure, genetic blood disorders, immunodeficiencies and genetic metabolic disorders. (Here's a complete list of the conditions, most of which are fairly rare.)

It's hard to estimate both the likelihood of these diseases afflicting your child or a family member and the likelihood that cord blood can help them, but estimates range from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 200,000. The most accepted number is about 1 in 2,700.

Clinical trials are testing how helpful cord blood might be for all sorts of conditions, from diabetes to cerebral palsy to neurological and autoimmune disorders. Promising results on treating deafness, arthritis, Parkinson's and liver cirrhosis have been found in studies in rats; it's hard to say if it will translate to humans in the future.

5. How much does cord blood banking cost?

Like most insurance policies, cord blood banking is a gamble—and not a cheap one. Banks charge between $2,000 and $4,500 to store the blood for up to 21 years, usually requiring a yearly maintenance fee of $100 to $300 on top of that.

Donating your lood, which we'll discuss in a moment, is free.

6. So, should I bank my baby's cord blood?

I wish there was an easy answer to give you here.

If you know of a family medical history involving a condition that's treatable with stem cell transplants, banked cord blood could be a lifesaver later on for a sibling or other family member.

The heartwarming success stories that companies describe are real, and people have definitely benefited from banked cord blood. Plus, technological advances may discover other remarkable uses for cord blood.

It's just that the odds are pretty low that you'll need them, and other treatments may come along in the meantime.

If you go with a commercial bank, research carefully how well the blood is stored and, if available, what FDA inspections have revealed about them.

It is important to note that at American Academy of Pediatrics has some concerns regarding private cord blood banking. Banks are not FDA regulated, and the stem cells that are banked there are used less often than the one in public banks (more on that below). Your best bet is to speak with your medical team to see what their recommendations for your specific scenario are.

7. Can I donate my baby's stem cells?

Yes! If you decide commercial cord banking isn't right for your family, you can also donate it to a public cord blood bank for research or treatments for other people. Donating is free and is supported by the AAP.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to get it back if you need it later. However, if you know ahead of time that someone in the family may need it for a condition treatable with stem cells, you can make a “directed donation" that reserves it for that person's use only (nontransferable and also offered by private banks).

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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