Important Facts about Your Baby’s Cord Blood

Cord blood (blood that remains in your baby’s umbilical cord and your placenta after the cord is cut) is a rich source of powerful stem cells. Today, stem cells are used to treat more than 75 life threatening diseases such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia, and other serious blood and immune disorders.

A common source of stem cells is bone marrow, but unfortunately, it has many limitations. More than 20 percent of patients in need are unable to find a bone marrow donor, and that number increases to more than 60 percent for some minority populations. Saving cord blood is a unique solution, because it can be used in many cases which bone marrow cannot. Collecting your baby’s cord blood is painless, poses no risk to you or your baby, only takes a few minutes, and may save a life.

In 2003, Illinois amended the Hospital Licensing Act to offer pregnant women the option of donating their babies’ cord blood to a public cord blood facility to help patients searching for a stem cell donor. You have three options regarding your baby’s cord blood:

  • Apply to donate to a public blood bank.*
  • Collect the cord blood for your family in a family bank.
  • Allow the cord blood to be discarded at the hospital.

Please review this information, and talk to your doctor, midwife, or childbirth educator during weeks 28-30 of your pregnancy to make an informed decision about your baby’s cord blood. The following guide provides basic facts about cord blood options as well as resources for more information.

* Not all public blood banks accept donations.