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Private cord blood banking and diapers

Published on: October 01, 2005

Welcome to Decision Digest, where we
summarize important issues that expectant and new parents face. This
time, we take a closer look at private cord blood banking and cloth
versus disposable diapers. We've also provided an extensive list of
resources so that parents can do additional research on each topic, if

Private cord blood banking.

Why Choose It?

  • Peace of mind -- a kind of "biological insurance."
  • Stem cells have been used to treat certain types of leukemia and other cancers, anemias, and blood and immune disorders.
  • With
    continuing medical research, the list of conditions that may be
    treatable with cord blood stem cells is growing and may eventually
    include other cancers, heart disease, brain damage, spinal cord injury,
    diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's,
    Parkinson's and more.
  • Banking ensures
    the immediate availability of a perfectly matched sample. According to
    the Journal of the American Medical Association, 10,000 to 15,000
    Americans each year who need a stem cell transplant are unable to a
    find suitable donor.
  • Cord blood stem
    cells are easier to match for family members than bone marrow stem
    cells, which increases the chances the cord blood cells will be used by
    someone in the family.
  • Survival rates
    double when patients are treated with their own or a family member's
    cord blood rather than an unrelated donor sample.
  • Patients
    who receive stem cell transplants from cord blood have a smaller chance
    of rejection than those who receive them from bone marrow.
  • If
    your children have a multiracial or non-Caucasian background, it may be
    difficult to find any other matching stem cell source.
  • The collection process is simple, painless and quick, and doesn't interfere with labor, delivery or bonding.

Why Not?

  • Expensive -- roughly $1,000 at delivery and $100 per year thereafter.
  • Both
    the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Marrow Donor
    Program recommend private banking only if there is a family member with
    a current or potential need for a stem cell transplant.
  • Although
    the list of diseases that can be treated with cord blood stem cells is
    growing, current applications are still very rare, especially in
  • Amount of stem cells collected may not be enough to treat an older child or adult.
  • Stem cells are also available from one's own blood marrow or from a matching donor.
  • Additional paperwork, health history and blood tests required for mother.
  • Potential for fraud exists since you don't actually see your sample and will likely never request it.
  • Time and research involved in selecting which private bank to use for storage.
  • Medical
    staff should be aware that clamping the cord too soon after birth in an
    attempt to maximize the banked blood volume is not recommended and may
    pose a risk to baby.

Alternative: philanthropic cord blood donation:

  • Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Marrow Donor Program encourage philanthropic cord blood donation.
  • Save a life: Donation makes your baby's cord blood available to anyone in need.
  • In some cases, directed donations are possible.
  • More hospitals and blood banks are accepting cord blood donations, including Swedish Medical Center and Overlake Hospital.
  • Same easy collection process.
  • No cost to parents.


Why Choose Cloth?

  • Easier for caregivers to detect wetness to ensure baby is getting enough milk.
  • No
    exposure to chemicals. Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate,
    which becomes a gel-like substance when wet and can cause skin
    irritations and severe allergic reactions including vomiting, staph
    infections and fever. In addition, a 1999 study found that mice exposed
    to various brands of clean disposable diapers experienced asthma-like
    symptoms, as well as eye, nose and throat irritation, while exposure to
    cloth diapers did not cause the symptoms.
  • Some children have sensitivity to certain brands of disposable diapers, which can cause diaper rash and discomfort.
  • No
    potential fertility issues for boys. A 2000 German study concluded that
    boys who wear disposable diapers maintain a higher scrotal temperature
    than boys wearing cloth diapers, which may pose fertility issues later
    in life.
  • Earlier potty training -- as much as five months to a year -- because baby can feel wetness.
  • No
    impact on landfill. Disposables are the third largest single consumer
    item in landfills, making up about 4 percent of all solid waste.
  • No public health risks from human sewage ending up in solid waste system.
  • No trees consumed for production of fibrous wood pulp filler.
  • More affordable than disposables.
  • Can be used for more than one child.
  • Alternative: Diaper service
  • More convenient: no rinsing, soaking or laundering at home.
  • Better sanitation processes available than can be provided at home.
  • No diapers to buy; rent the exact size and quantity you need per month.
  • More efficient, using less water per diaper than laundering at home.
  • Supports the local economy since most are locally owned and operated.

Why Choose Disposable?

  • Convenience: no extra laundry, can be purchased anywhere, no dirty diapers to carry with you.
  • Ease of use: one-piece designs, familiar to all child-care providers, fewer leaks.
  • Possible to change baby less frequently due to the super-absorbency, although not recommended.
  • Generally, babies have less frequent and less severe diaper rashes with super-absorbent disposables.
  • No water pollution from detergents used to launder cloth diapers.

Alternative: "Green" disposable diapers (Brands include Seventh Generation, Nature Boy and Girl, Tender Care)

  • Often contain fewer potentially harmful chemicals such as bleach.
  • Made
    from more biodegradable materials, although scientists theorize that
    they still will not break down in typical landfill conditions.


Cord Blood:


Laurie Thompson is a Bellevue-based freelance writer and mother of two.

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