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Monday, June 08, 2009

Cord Blood Banking: Worth It?

As I indicated in Eduardo's post the other day about paternity leave, I'm thrilled and a bit nervous about the prospect of becoming a dad later this summer--blogging has thus fallen a bit as I try to take care of a number of loose ends both in and outside my professional life, e.g., buying a four door car (Accord or Odyssey? Camry or Siena? Hybrid or worry about the EMF radiation?)

One thing I figure the Prawfs crowd of readers has probably considered is the issue of preserving the baby's cord blood. What say y'all on whether it makes sense to do? I posted this quandary earlier on Facebook today and most of the six people or so who have responded (including the wife of my cousin/doctor) have said it's an enterprise basically aimed at preying upon anxious parents (who me?) at vulnerable times with very little prospect of benefit.  Apparently the academy of pediatricians agrees. What do you think? Disagree? Please feel free to post links in the comments to help nervous nellie parents to be. Thanks.  And feel free to weigh in on the respective car choices too...

Posted by Dan Markel on June 8, 2009 at 04:24 PM in Deliberation and voices | Permalink


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I, too, am becoming a dad this year, and I've looked into this, coming to the same general conclusion that your Facebook friends have. It's relatively expensive to preserve the blood, and it's only useful for treating a very small and relatively rare subset of health issues. My wife and I are going to pass.

Posted by: anon | Jun 8, 2009 4:48:46 PM

Congrats, Dan! My spouse and I faced a lot of the questions you are now facing 2 years ago, including this one. I basically agree with the Facebook comments, although I'm not sure I would use the word "preying." But it does seem to me to be a heavily pushed service that costs an awful lot of money -- $1000/year -- to insure against a very small risk (the risk that the baby might have a problem that the cord blood could help in treating). There's lots of other areas where you can get more bang for your buck -- car seats, accident-proofing the house, etc. My opinion: not worth it.

Note that you can donate your cord blood for free to help treat others -- but unlike the paid service, you have to jump through a lot of hoops to donate, and there's some sort of early deadline as I recall.

EMF radiation? I'm willing to bet the ambient radiation from the Sun and the Earth is greater than that from a hybrid car battery. I recommend the Baby Bargains Book on questions like this -- it's got good need/don't need advice.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Jun 8, 2009 5:19:18 PM

I agree with these two. Take the "cord blood" question as the first of many unsolicited but pushy requests as a parent, where the proponent makes you feel like an inadequate parent if you dont do it. Needless to say, it doesnt stop anytime soon...(been to "Babies R Us" lately?)

Posted by: untenured prof | Jun 9, 2009 9:18:28 AM

We did it, and I'm glad. It is not that much money (for a prof, at least), and it makes sense that the usefulness of the blood will increase as there are medical developments.

Posted by: anon | Jun 9, 2009 3:21:27 PM

When we had our first child, I found the advertisements compelling as well. Then a criminal law professor asked me if I really wanted my child's DNA held by someone that would most likely hand it over to law enforcement every time. Not that I ever thought my kids would be framed for a crime they didn't commit. . . .

Posted by: Christine Hurt | Jun 11, 2009 12:47:48 PM

We actually signed up to donate our triplets' cord blood, but in the tumult of the actual delivery, other priorities came to the fore, and the donation was overlooked. I was pretty disappointed about it--we had found the donation process to be very easy up to that point. We are planning on donating the cord blood of number 4, due in September. So far the donation process has been very easy. I must admit that I didn't really consider banking the cord blood.

Posted by: Jody | Jun 12, 2009 12:37:44 AM

Oh...and on the vehicle, we love Toyota, and have a Rav4 and a Sienna. Great gas mileage and the maintenance has been fantastic. Prior to these vehicles, we had a Celica and an Avalon. My husband drove the Celica and one day was hit at 70 mph by an 18-wheeler, which spun him around in front of the grill and pushed him for 2 miles down the highway. He walked away without a scratch and the insurance didn't total the car.

Posted by: Jody | Jun 12, 2009 12:40:27 AM

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