It’s true: modern parenthood is filled with plenty of challenges (we’re looking at you, screen time) but thanks to advances in medical research and technology, parents are able protect and monitor their baby’s health like never before. As research advances the understanding of the immediate and future needs of a growing baby, the medical and tech industries are responding— loudly.
Taking charge of your baby’s health can start in the delivery room with cord blood banking. New to the idea? Here’s a quick 101: the blood within your newborn baby’s umbilical cord contains young stem cells that can renew themselves and become specialized. Through a quick collection process, parents are able to bank stem cells from their baby’s umbilical cord for potential future use. Historically, these stem cells have been used in transplant medicine (think certain cancers and blood diseases)1 for both the child the cells came from and potentially their siblings, but recent research shows new possibilities.
As Morey Kraus, Chief Scientific Officer at ViaCord explains, new breakthroughs in cord blood research have expanded its application into an entirely new field of medicine called Regenerative Medicine. “For more than 20 years, ViaCord has actively participated in developments to increase the clinical utility of cord blood stem cells,” he says. “Over the last few years, cord blood applications have expanded beyond transplant medicine into areas of regenerative medicine like Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] and brain injuries. I’ve never been more optimistic about the potential of cord blood.”
Just last month, results of a Phase I Clinical Safety Trial using a child’s own cord blood were published showing that cord blood infusion is safe in children with autism.2 Now, a Phase II Clinical Trial is currently underway to help determine if a child’s own or unrelated donor cord blood is beneficial to children with ASD.3 For more details about this study, click here. With the expanding possibilities of cord blood applications, even a family with an excellent medical history should consider making cord blood banking part of their life plan as a way to prepare for the future.
Once you’ve made a decision about what to do with your baby’s cord blood, look no further than Silicone Valley for some of the most useful medical advances with in-home baby care. The baby tech boom is working to solve many of the challenges (and alleviating some of the major anxieties) that come with having a newborn under your roof. From wearable bluetooth thermometers to changing pads that double as a digital scale, new technologies are able to collect basic but important information from your baby and provide you with practical insights into their overall health and developmental progress. If information is power, these devices are every bit empowering. But remember, the key here is peace of mind— for the most part, information should be passively tracked and alerts should only come when something is off. If you find yourself up all night pouring over numbers, it may be time to reevaluate.
1. Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.
Data on file. PerkinElmer, Inc. Most of the diseases on this list are inherited genetic diseases. Typically, these treatments require a donor transplant, such as from a sibling. If your child needs a donor, a family member is always the first-choice source. Treatments for cancers like neuroblastoma can use a child’s own cord blood. Although the potential use of newborn stem cells is expanding rapidly, the odds a family member without a defined risk will need to use their child’s stem cells are low. Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will be effective and only a treating physician can determine when it can be used.
2. Dawson, G., Sun, J. M., Davlantis, K. S., Murias, M., Franz, L., Troy, J., Simmons, R., Sabatos-DeVito, M., Durham, R. and Kurtzberg, J. (2017), Autologous Cord Blood Infusions Are Safe and Feasible in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of a Single-Center Phase I Open-Label Trial. STEM CELLS Translational Medicine. doi:10.1002/sctm.16-0474 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sctm.16-0474/abstract
3. Phase II Clinical Trial; Cord Blood Infusion for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (Duke ACT) https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02847182fa