It’s been touted as a miracle “insurance” — but some experts say blood banking might not be definitely worth the time and cash.
Drew Barrymore recently revealed that she saved blood from each of her daughters’ umbilical cords with the intention to salvage their stem cells after being told by her doctor that it could potentially be a lifesaver for her own children.
“It could have an effect on your loved ones and even in some cases it could save your child’s life,” she said in a clip from “The Drew Barrymore Show” that was shared last week.
Cord banking entails storing the blood from the umbilical cord so it may well be used later to treat diseases, with many storage firms likening it to a “biological insurance policy” — just in case anything happens later in life that the dear cells are needed for.
Stem cells collected from an umbilical cord — versus bone marrow — are particularly useful, as they will work even when among the proteins don’t match, meaning more people can use them, in addition to profit from a shorter processing time.
In line with Dr. Christine Sterling, an OB/GYN and spokesperson for stem storage company Cord Blood Registry (CBR) — which sponsored the segment on Barrymore’s show — the umbilical cord is a wealthy source of stem cells with the potential to act like a “body’s own personal repair kit.”
Nonetheless, each the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association say the potential advantages of storing umbilical cord blood as “insurance” are outweighed by the high cost of storing blood that will never be used.
Initial collection and processing alone could cost as much as $3,000, based on a 2022 Forbes story and, after that, annual storage fees could reach $1,300 — or more.
Stem cells could be utilized to treat certain conditions — comparable to some blood and immune disorders — and scientists have long hypothesized their use in therapies to treat spinal cord injuries, some types of cancer and even neurodegenerative diseases comparable to Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease.
Nonetheless, a report published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy on May 4 emphasized that those types of treatments aren’t yet approved, warning consumers about spending money for the therapies and urging regulators to pause the sale of those products until they could be tested in clinical trials.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved stem cell therapies to treat immune system disorders like leukemia, lymphoma and sickle cell disease.
Some clinics, though, have been promoting stem cell therapies to treat conditions comparable to Parkinson’s disease and hair loss and as anti-aging treatments — with little evidence of safety and efficacy.
If the stem cells are used, they’re more more likely to go to a sibling than the person from whom they were taken, based on a cautionary 2022 article in The Atlantic.
Nonetheless, some families still keep the cells in case more treatments should develop into available in the long run.