Cord blood banking: 5 frequently asked questions from Singapore parents

July 07, 2019
  • What exactly is cord blood banking?
    1 / 5 What exactly is cord blood banking?

    It’s when cord blood is collected from your child’s umbilical cord at birth. The stem cells – think of them as vital building blocks of the human body – found in cord blood are primarily responsible for replenishing blood and regenerating the immune system, says Dr Andrew Wu, technical director of Cordlife, one of Singapore’s three private cord blood banks.

    They are also biologically younger than mature adult stem cells, which means they are more effective in helping to treat certain diseases, should the need arises.

    Explains Dr Wu: “The complication of using stem cell transplantation to treat diseases is when there is some degree of incompatibility between the donor and recipient cells. The cells in cord blood are less reactive than those from adult sources, which reduces the likelihood of such incompatibility.”

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  • Should I bank my baby's cord blood?
    2 / 5 Should I bank my baby's cord blood?

    It might save him from life-threatening diseases later in his life. Currently, there are over 80 diseases that can be treated via cord blood stem cell transplants, including cancers such as leukaemia and breast cancer.

    The three private cord blood banks in Singapore are Cryoviva, Cordlife and StemcordExpect to pay approximately $1,000 to $1,500 upfront, and $250 to $270 for every subsequent year, to collect and store your cord blood privately.  

    Cord blood could possibly help siblings who have these diseases as well, but don’t expect a perfect fit. “In reality, the match between siblings is not 100 per cent but 25 per cent,” says Dr Tan Poh Lin, senior consultant of Haematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow and Cord Blood Transplantation at the National University Hospital.

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  • What about donating it?
    3 / 5 What about donating it?

    You can also donate your cord blood to the public bank, which will use it to help patients with life-threatening diseases.

    Over 14,000 mums have done so in the five years that the Singapore Cord Blood Bank (SCBB) has been set up, says Dr William Hwang, its medical director.

    But bear in mind that donation doesn’t give you priority if you or your child ever needs the cord blood.

    (Also read: Top 5 nutrients for pregnant and breastfeeding mums)

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  • What are the risks?
    4 / 5 What are the risks?

    “There are minimal risks involved, as the umbilical cord blood is collected only after the umbilical cord has been clamped and cut between the mother and the baby,” says Dr Hwang.

    (Also read: Emergency C-section: What to expect, why it is done)

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  • When do I have to decide?
    5 / 5 When do I have to decide?

    At least a month before the delivery day. According to Dr Wu: “We encourage parents to enrol during the second or just before the third trimester, if possible.”

    If you’re planning to donate, Dr Hwang recommends that you talk to your gynae around 28 weeks and contact the SCBB at 32 weeks.

    You’ll have to go through an Informed Consent Process, where you’ll be counselled about the implications and processes, and fill in a medical history form. Only after this is done will the public bank collect your cord blood.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    (Also read:Confinement recipe: Double-boiled whole coconut with black chicken soup)

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