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Pregnant? Cool Medical Advances

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My day job involves a lot to do with children's health and so I get to hear, discuss and learn a lot about medical advances, especially in the form of children's health. A prominent ob/gyn at Cedars passed along a very interesting medical advance I had never heard of before. Our country is as divided as ever on stem cell research and yet many in the medical community strongly support this research to help identify the strains that cause diseases and how to catch them earlier or cure them altogether. Currently stem cell research is being used to treat nearly 70 diseases, with countless more ahead of us in the future.

And then there is something slightly in between. You can save the blood from the cord immediataly after a baby is born and those stem cells can help protect your family's health. There are many services that can do this, the one that I researched is a company called Cord Blood.

Photo courtesy of laruocco's flickr.

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A few interesting things I learned from the web site (for the rest of the FAQ's click here):

What is cord blood? Cord blood, which is also called "placental blood," is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth and after the cord is cut. Cord blood is routinely discarded with the placenta and umbilical cord. Your baby's umbilical cord blood is a valuable source of stem cells, which are genetically unique to your baby and family.

Are cord blood stem cells different than other types of stem cells?

Yes. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are the "youngest," safely available stem cells and they are the product of another miracle - a live birth. Freezing these cells essentially stops the clock and prevents aging and damage that may occur to the cells later in life. Another source of stem cells, embryonic stem cells, has been at the heart of heated debate. Currently, embryonic stem cells are not being used to treat humans. A third category of stem cells is adult stem cells, such as those found in bone marrow. Adult stem cells serve very specialized roles in children and adults and are not as proliferative as those found in cord blood.

Dr. Robert Sears had this to say:
I discovered it was much simpler than I'd imagined. After the umbilical cord is cut, the blood is drained out of the placenta and remaining umbilical cord, thus the term, "cord blood." This blood is rich in baby's "stem cells," which are immature blood cells that are able to change and mature into any type of blood cell as baby grows, just like bone marrow cells. Today cord blood stem cells are being used to treat nearly 70 different cancers and blood disorders.

For more information, ask your doctor, ask around, do some research and consider making this choice. Family members sadly, can become sick overnight. One healthy child does not mean all of your children would be so lucky. This incredible advancement could save the life of someone you love.