An image of siblings smiling while holding each other.

Should I Bank Each of My Child’s Stem Cells?

We are genetically closest to our siblings. That’s because we inherit half of our DNA from our mother and half from our father. The genes we inherit are based on a chance combination of our parents and our siblings are the only other people in the entire world inheriting the same DNA. 

By banking each child’s newborn stem cells, you could be storing life-saving cells not only for them, but also their siblings.

Top 3 Reasons to Bank Each Child’s Cord Blood and Stem Cells

  1. You want your child to have the option to use their stem cells in the future. Stem cell treatments are advancing each year. By storing each child’s stem cells, parents are giving each of their children the ability to take advantage of current and future medical breakthroughs.
  2. Siblings with the same biological parents have the greatest chance of being a donor match. The more siblings with banked cord blood and tissue, the more chances they may cover each other for possible transplants and therapies.
  3. Increased likelihood of multiple treatments. Certain clinical trials and FDA-approved treatments encourage multiple rounds of stem cell transplants. Stored sibling stem cells may allow for multiple treatments of the same condition, such as autism or cerebral palsy.

Genetic HLA Matching for Transplants

When a child develops a condition that can be treated with stem cells, they undergo a hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Prior to a transplant, the patient’s care team ensures that the stem cells are a genetic match for the patient. Certain transplants do not need to be a perfect match, but should match close enough that the body does not reject the cells. 

What does close match mean? There are 6 HLA markers that are important for stem cell transplants, Bone marrow transplants require all 6 to 100% match between a donor and recipient. Cord blood stem cell transplants are just as effective with only 4 out of 6 markers identically matched.

Siblings with the same biological parents offer the highest chance of being a close HLA match. The patient medical team will determine how close the match needs to be.

Using Your Own Stem Cells vs Someone Else’s

There are two types of stem cell transplants: allogeneic and autologous. It is the source of the donor that creates the difference:

  • Allogeneic: donor is another person.
  • Autologous: donor is oneself.

Patients with genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis cannot use their own cord blood and will need stem cells from a sibling’s cord blood. In the case of lymphoma or autism, a child can use either their own cord blood or their siblings’ for treatment.

Here’s a quick guide to which conditions can usually be treated with a sibling’s stem cells (allogenic), and which can be treated using a child’s own stem cells (autologous):

FDA-Approved Stem Cell Treatments

Leukemias - Allogeneic

Myelodysplastic Syndromes - Allogeneic

Hodgkin's Lymphoma - Both 

Anemias - Allogeneic

Inherited Immune System Disorders - Allogeneic

Sickle Cell Disease - Allogeneic

Solid Tumors (not originating in the blood or immune system) - Autologous 

Clinical Trials

Autism - Both

Cerebral Palsy - Both

Hearing Loss (acquired sensorineural) - Autologous

Type I & Type II Diabetes - Both

Cleft Palate Repair - Allogeneic

Visit Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood for a complete, up-to-date list of diseases treated and current clinical trials

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