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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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):
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
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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