Delayed cord clamping allows placental blood and stem cells to continue to accrue to the infant just after birth. Cord blood banking saves this same, precious resource to protect the infant, its siblings and family members should a stem cell transplant be needed.
Here, we focus on how to ensure your infant gets the benefits of delayed cord clamping and the protection cord blood banking offers with this limited resource.
What Is Delayed Cord Clamping?
It is just what it sounds like: delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord right after birth, for a period of at least 30 seconds (less than 30 seconds is considered immediate cord clamping). Whether born vaginally or by C-section, term or preterm, all infants may benefit from delayed cord clamping, with a more stable cardiovascular transition, increased hemoglobin levels at birth, increased iron reserves for as long as 6 months, and improved motor, developmental and behavioral skills at 4 years [*].
How long to delay cord clamping has been a matter of debate for decades and research continues in this area. Most guidelines today, including those from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the World Health Organization recommend delayed cord clamping for 30-60 seconds after the birth of the infant [*] [*] [*].
What Is Cord Blood Banking?
Cord blood banking is the process of collecting and saving the cord blood that’s left in the newborn’s umbilical cord for potential use in a stem cell transplant, should the need arise.
Researchers have found that stem cells captured from cord blood offer advantages over those captured from bone marrow, including enhanced compatibility, availability, and reduced risk of rejection from GVHD.
To date, more than 80 diseases have FDA-approved stem cell treatments, and that number continues to grow.
Delayed Cord Clamping vs. Cord Blood Banking
Both delayed cord clamping and cord blood (and tissue) banking can benefit your baby or its siblings. Ideally, you may want to reap the benefits of both, but there may be limited instances when one or the other isn’t feasible and the choice is made for you in the delivery room.
In births where the mother’s health is at risk due to issues with the placenta or hemorrhaging, the cord is damaged, or the baby presents with a medical issue, care providers will put the stability of mother and baby ahead of delayed cord clamping - and that's ok.
Infants who are preterm or categorized as “non-vigorous” have shown a particularly significant degree of benefit from delayed cord clamping, but researchers don’t really know the optimum time to delay yet [*].
What they do agree on is that delayed cord clamping offers significantly improved health outcomes to your infant at birth and beyond, even with just a minute’s delay. But, since cord blood stem cells have already been FDA-approved in the treatment of more than 80 life-threatening diseases and conditions, banking your baby’s cord blood may save your life, or one of your children down the road. So, to be sure, it’s a delicate balance.
There are even times when parents create a child — a savior sibling — to save the life of another sibling facing a life-threatening condition that may be cured by a stem cell transplant from the sibling infant’s cord blood.
Benefits of Delayed Cord Clamping and Cord Blood Banking
Can you have your cake and eat it too? The answer is yes.
Limiting your delayed cord clamping to 1 minute — a figure recommended by WHO, ACOG, and other highly-respected authorities in the medical community — should yield enough viable cord blood to merit saving and still offer your infant the health benefits of delayed cord clamping [*]. Cord tissue isn’t affected by delayed cord clamping at all and is extremely simple to save.
Cord tissue offers different types of stem cells, with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) being the primary focus in research. These cells are prized for their ability to differentiate into a wide variety of cell types, including bone, cartilage, muscle, and nerve. Hundreds of studies are underway to unlock the secrets of MSCs for regenerative medicine.
What Happens if There Isn’t Enough Cord Blood?
It is very rare for providers not to be able to collect cord blood or tissue. However, the longer the cord is clamped, the higher the chance of decreased cord blood volume for collection. There have been instances where there is not enough cord blood collected to process if the delay occurs until the cord stops pulsing. This is why following the guidelines for cord clamping is important.
At MiracleCord, we ask that the collecting care provider not try to assess whether the cord blood or tissue they collect is viable, but rather, let our lab make that call after quantifying the number of viable stem cells we can recover.
Note, too, that with MiracleCord, there is a $200 deposit billed at enrollment (covering costs of the StemCare® collection kit and shipping) and the balance isn’t due until after the stem cells are received and processed at our lab. If we don’t receive the kit at our lab, or the blood or tissue sample(s) are not fit for processing and storage, we won’t bill you for the balance. The client is only responsible for the deposit.
Why the Cord Blood Processing Method Matters
Not all cord banks process cord blood and tissue with the same method, use the same collection kit, or process in the same time frame. These three factors have a profound effect on the number of viable stem cells recovered from your baby’s cord blood.
1. The Processing
MiracleCord uses the advanced AXP® II automated processing system — the gold standard in stem cell processing. This method has the proven ability to recover 99% of cells, and the recovery rate is 20% higher than the processing methods used by most other cord blood banks – Sepax® and Hespan®. Because it is an automated system, it minimizes the potential for lab technician errors and contamination [*].
2. The Collection Kit
The collection kit must be sufficiently robust to protect the contents during transport and also be able to safeguard the samples from ambient temperature fluctuations while enroute to the lab.
Further, a sterile, FDA-approved cord blood collection bag must be included in the event a C-section is required and the bag must be used within a sterile field.
Finally, it’s important that the kit use citrate phosphate dextrose (CPD), an FDA-recommended anticoagulant and cell preservative, in the collection bag instead of heparin. CPD collection bags increase stem cell yield by more than 50% compared to heparin collection bags, and CPD is recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for cord blood collection.
MiracleCord’s proprietary StemCare® collection kit meets all these critical requirements.
3. The Timing
MiracleCord processes your baby’s cord blood in approximately half the time of most other companies with our TimeCritical® processing. We employ a next-flight-out medical courier that is available 24/7/365 with every plan, at no additional cost, to ensure your collection kit gets to our lab quickly and safely.
The Bottom Line
Cord blood is a precious resource that can benefit your baby — and your family — at birth and beyond. If you’re thinking of banking your baby’s cord blood and you also want to take advantage of the positive health outcomes from delayed cord clamping, talk to your care provider and come up with a plan that allows you to have it both ways.
In these scenarios, it’s more important than ever that you use a provider like MiracleCord that can capture the most stem cells possible from your sample.
MiracleCord was awarded Best U.S. Cord Blood Bank by Global Health and Pharma in 2021 and again in 2022 for its affordable private cord blood banking services. We’re available to answer your questions at 888.743.2673, or you can learn more by downloading our Free Info Kit.
AXP is a registered trademark of ThermoGenesis Corp.; Sepax is a registered trademark of Biosafe S.A.; Hespan is a registered trademark of B. Braun Medical Inc.