Dr. Carolyn's Corner
NATIONAL CORD BLOOD AWARENESS MONTH
As I have watched the obstetrical portion of our practice grow over the past two years since Dr. Yadira Anca joined us, I often look back and think about how much I enjoyed doing OB. Even though it's been well over 15 years since my last delivery, I still try to keep up with the latest advancements in obstetrics and am truly amazed at much of what has developed in this ?eld in the past several years.
One topic that we are hearing much about is stem cell medicine. Stem cells are unspecialized cells which have the ability to multiple while still undifferentiated, but have the capacity to develop into various specialized cells which can then be used by the body to repair or replace damaged or diseased tissue. Stem cells are found in both fetal blood and adult blood and bone marrow. Ongoing research throughout the word is showing how diseases such as leukemia,lymphoma, sickle cell disease, inherited immune system disorders, among others, may be successfully treated through stem cell transplants.
The most obvious and safe way to obtain fetal stem cells is through collection of blood in the umbilical cord at the time it is clamped at delivery. This is not harmful to the newborn and it provides an excellent source of stem cells that can be saved for future use in the baby, family members, or unrelated persons if ever needed. A very small amount of blood is withdrawn from the cord and sent to a cord blood bank for processing and storage. Patients can choose to donate cord blood to a public cord blood bank or store it with a private or family blood bank. Otherwise, the cord is routinely discarded by the hospital, if there has been no reason to submit it to pathology.
The National Health Information Center has designated July as National Cord Blood Awareness Month. The mission is to encourage both the medical community as well as the public, especially expectant parents, to learn about the bene?ts of cord blood banking. Hopefully, obstetricians everywhere are sharing this information with their patients early in pregnancy. This allows the parents to make informed decisions about a choice that could affect their family for years to come.
Cord blood banking is widely available to patients in San Antonio hospitals. If you have not already been given information by your obstetrician, I encourage all OB patients to ask your doctor about it and learn whether the hospital you will be delivering at participates in cord blood banking. A patient will never be forced to donate cord blood, but the more you learn about it, hopefully you will say “why not?”. There is really no reason not to.
On a ?nal note, I hope everyone has a safe and fun 4th of July holiday. Our of?ce will be closed for the extended weekend to allow our employees some well-earned rest and relaxation. We'll be back to our regular hours next week. If you would like more information about this month's topic, let us kno