More parents using cord blood as insurance for their children
Cord blood stem cell banking seems to be the new-age health insurance that many parents in the city are opting for, for their children.mumbai Updated: May 22, 2012 01:30 IST
Cord blood stem cell banking seems to be the new-age health insurance that many parents in the city are opting for, for their children.seems to be the new-age health insurance that many parents in the city are opting for, for their children.
Actor Shilpa Shetty, who gave birth to a boy on Monday, became the latest celebrity to endorse the trend when she chose to preserve the stem cells of her newborn.
Cord blood stem cell banking refers to collection of umbilical cord blood after childbirth. This blood is processed to retrieve stem cells, which are preserved at the required temperature. Stem cell banks claim these regenerative cells can be stored for up to 21 years.
Officials at stem cell banks said till a few years ago they saw, on an average, 300 collections a year. Now, each bank claims to receive around 100 to 200 cord blood collections every month. “Many couples are aware of stem cell banking and those who can afford it opt for it,” said Dr Kiran Coelho, gynaecologist, Hinduja Healthcare, Khar. Dr Coelho, who delivered Shetty’s baby, said other celebrities like Lara Dutta have also opted for stem cell banking, thus giving it more exposure.
“Stem cell treatment is the future of medical science. From all our centres in India, we receive around 400 to 500 cord blood samples for banking every month,” said Meghnath Roy Chowdhury, managing director, Cordlife Lifesciences India Pvt Ltd.
The cost of preserving stem cells found in the umbilical cord ranges from Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 1 lakh. Most stem cell banks now offer customers the option of paying in instalments.
“Diabetes, autism, cerebral palsy are among many of the problems for which researchers are using stem cell therapy. It is not just the child who is going to benefit by the preservation. In case of a sibling or family members suffering from an ailment, which can be cured with stem cells, these cells can be used after tissue matching is done,” said Dr Abhijit Bopardikar, director, Reelabs Pvt Ltd.
From January 2011, Reelabs has banked cord blood stem cells of around 1,500 infants.
Though the number of people opting for stem cell banking is on the rise, not many have used these preserved stem cells for treatment. For instance, not a single client at Reelabs has used the banked stem cells for any treatment so far. At Cordlife Lifesciences, only one client has used the stored stem cells in the past 12 years.
What is cord blood banking?
After a baby is delivered, the mother's body releases the placenta. Usually, the umbilical cord and placenta are discarded after birth.
However research has shown that umbilical cord blood is a rich source of stem cells. Now, stem cell banks process the cord blood to retrieve stem cells in it and store it. The stored stem cells within 21 years can be thawed through a procedure in order to be used for any stem cell induced treatment.
Uses of cord blood
* Diabetes, autism, cerebral palsy are among many of the problems for which researchers are using stem cell therapy
* Not just the child, even siblings or family members can use the cells required, after a tissue matching is done.