If you are a parent interested in banking your baby’s cord blood stem cells, you should know the difference between bone marrow and Cord Blood Transplants. There are numerous studies that compare cord blood and bone marrow transplants which highlight the pros and cons associated with both. Let us start from the basics.
Bone marrow is a soft spongy tissue consisting of many blood vessels containing hematopoietic stem cells (an immature cell that can differentiate into any type of blood cell) present in the center of bones.1 About 95% of the body’s blood cells are produced by our bone marrow.2
These conditions may arise due to severe bleeding disorders or life-threatening diseases like sickle cell anemia, leukemia, and lymphoma. The good news is that upon early detection, the conditions can be treated with a bone marrow transplant/ stem cell transplant.3
A Bone Marrow Transplant, also known as stem cell transplant is a medical procedure where healthy stem cells are infused into your body to replace diseased or damaged stem cells inside your bone marrow.
There are different types of transplants including autologous transplant and allogeneic transplant. Autologous transplant is when the stem cells from your own body is used. Allogeneic transplant is when the stem cells from another donor are used. Finding a donor match for this type of transplant is important.5
The blood in your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta is commonly known as cord blood. This blood remains in the umbilical cord and placenta even after delivery, albeit for a short time, and is often discarded post-delivery. However, cord blood has been found to be rich in blood-producing (hematopoietic) stem cells.6 These stem cells have regenerative properties and have immense potential in disease treatment
Both Bone Marrow and Cord Blood Transplant can help regenerate new stem cells in the bone marrow. The new stem cells infused can help treat medical conditions such as acute leukemia, bone marrow failure, hemoglobinopathies, immune disorders and metabolic disorders.6,7
Since 1989, when the first Cord Blood Transplant was carried out, umbilical Cord Blood Transplant has become a viable and effective alternative for Bone Marrow Transplant in patients in need of a stem cell transplant. Especially in children, both related and unrelated Cord Blood Transplants have been successfully performed for various blood,immune and metabolic disorders. It won’t be wrong to say that over the last 32 years, this field has seen significant advancements, improving transplant outcomes. Moreover, umbilical cord blood has enabled rapid availability and access to transplantation even in patients who belong to racial or ethnic minorities.12
A recent study of Minnesota University Medical Center observed the healthcare burden after umbilical Cord Blood Transplants versus other sources of Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).13
All the outcomes of the study indicated that Umbilical Cord Blood Transplants show better outcomes including post-transplant recovery than other sources of HSCT. Post-transplant recovery, medications, and other expenses can be reduced in umbilical Cord Blood Transplants.