Cord blood banking -- the process of harvesting and storing the nutrient-rich blood from a newborn's umbilical cord -- allegedly offers a lifetime of protection for your child. Using promises like that, the ads are hard to ignore -- even more so if you're a first-time parent inundated with options promising a better life for your new offspring.
But these promises do not come without a hefty price tag: Private cord blood banking can cost nearly $3,000 initially, plus $100 a month for storage thereafter. Is it worth it?
ABC News recently launched a huge investigation into cord blood banking. The whole series can be watched online at ABCNews.Go.com.
There's a long list of diseases -- including leukemia, sickle cell anemia and cerebral palsy --that are treated by cord blood stem cells. But Dr. Machi Scaradavou, a pediatric oncologist, told ABC News, "The chance of somebody needing their own cord blood is extremely, extremely low."
However, some parents say the expense is well worth it. We recently brought you the story of Lisa Sorenson, who banked her child's cord blood knowing that she would be born with an extreme case of congenital hydrocephalus. Her daughter Elisabeth, now 3, recently received her first blood stem-cell transfusion, and will have several others later in life to treat the myriad illnesses caused by her birth defects.
While Lisa's family is not sure if the treatment will work, she says anything is worth trying to extend her daughter's young life.
What do you think of cord blood banking?