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When you first learn you’re pregnant, there is seemingly an avalanche of medical information about how to have a healthy pregnancy and how to raise healthy children.  To help you make some of the important decisions about pregnancy, birth planning, and cord blood banking, we’ve put together this collection of articles.

We focus on emerging trends in the delivery room, like the benefits of delayed cord clamping.  We explore the DNA insights available from your newborn’s cord blood, and preview medical research into the potential for stem cells to unlock cures for Autism, Cerebral Palsy, joint injuries, Alzheimer’s Disease, and much more.  We also highlight important information about cord blood banking and the potential medical benefits for your child, their siblings, and other family members.


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Donate Cord Blood

By donating your newborn’s cord blood, you are joining a nationwide effort to create a genetically diverse inventory of stem cells for transplant to a child.

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Located in Altamonte Springs, Cord For Life® Inc. is a local umbilical cord blood bank that specializes in public and private stem cell processing and cryopreservation. Cord For Life® has operated in the Central Florida area since 1993, and to date has processed over 15,000 cord blood units from across the United States. In addition to collecting, processing and banking umbilical cord blood stem cells, the company provides consulting services to help organizations develop and operate high-quality cord blood banks, and offers educational training programs for healthcare professionals.

Recently, Cord For Life® launched its cord blood banking program.  Under this program private clients can store their baby’s cord blood stem cells (CBSC) for future needs or moms-to-be can donate their baby’s cord blood to the general public through the National Marrow Donor Program’s (NMDP) Be The Match® Registry. Public donation, which has no cost to the donor, makes CBSC available to anyone in the world in need of a stem cell transplant to treat over 75 diseases.

The Cord For Life® program utilizes a revolutionary new processing system, branded as PREMIERMAX®, which significantly reduces red cell contamination in the transplant product while recovering an equal or higher number of stem cells (when compared to other automated and traditional methods). PREMIERMAX® also reduces the level of DMSO required to adequately preserve the cells during the freezing process, thereby reducing potential recipient exposure to this sometimes toxic cryoprotectant.

PREMIERMAX® uses 2 unique reagents combined with individual unit Quality Control by highly trained technicians, to produce a superior final transplantation product. The processing reagent is PrepaCyte®-CB, which demonstrates an unrivaled ability to remove red blood cells over any other method on the market today. Red cell reduction reduces the amount of free hemoglobin in the thawed product infused to the recipient, thereby increasing the safety of the infused product. Additionally, PrepaCyte®-CB has shown in clinical trial and independent evaluation to increase the final stem cell population recovered, most significantly in the post-thaw colony forming assay which indicates functionality of the stem cells for engraftment.

The second key reagent in PREMIERMAX® is the freeze media, CryoStor® CS10. CryoStor is specifically designed to protect cells at ultra-low temp e r a t u r e s , unlike traditional cryopreservation reagents. This results in improved cellular transition through phase change from a liquid blood product to the frozen state for long-term storage, and again during thawing prior to infusion. During our validation of CryoStor® CS10, it was demonstrated that a less concentrated amount of the cryoprotectant reagent DMSO could be used in the freezing process while maintaining acceptable cellular functionality post-thaw.

The most important aspect of any change in status quo is the resulting effect of the change. Historically, the lower stem cell dose of a CBSC product when compared to a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell collection resulted in a longer time for bone marrow reconstitution (or engraftment). This led to early beliefs that CBSC could only be useful for pediatric patients or small adults. It was also realized that CBSC would typically result in longer periods of non-immunity, resulting in longer hospital stays for the recipient, even though GvHD is typically reduced.

Current data from over 20,000 CBSC transplants worldwide, shows an average time to PMN engraftment (PMN cell count >500 for 2+ days) is 25-27 days. In fact, our own historical data shows a comparable average PMN engraftment time of 21 days for units processed before our change to PremierMax-CBSM. Following our change in processing method, we are currently seeing an average time to PMN engraftment of only 11.33 days. Even more exciting is that independent data from another NMDP member cord blood bank that also uses PrepaCyte®-CB as it’s processing reagent mirrors our data from Cord For Life® (poster abstract to be published at AABB Annual Meeting 22-25 Oct., 2011).

As you can appreciate, a nearly 10 day reduction in the length of hospital stay, especially for a critically ill patient with no immune function, is highly significant. Having a readily available stem cell source product that can rival the engraftment time of marrow or peripheral blood sources, with a reduced risk of GvHD, and a significantly increased HLA-matching potential would create a major shift in the paradigm. Cord blood products have already begun to outpace marrow as a source for stem cell transplantation. With significant results such as these and new, exciting therapies being developed worldwide, the usefulness of cord blood stem cells will only increase over time. As more and more PREMIERMAX® processed CBSC units are transplanted worldwide, Cord For Life® will continue to monitor and analyze the engraftment data. A 2-site joint publication is expected in 2011 to further analyze the significance of the findings over a broader range of CBSC units, diseases, and transplant centers to eliminate other possible factors for the decreased engraftment time. We feel this finding could create a new excitement in the cord blood transplantation industry and provide a remarkable benefit to patients in need of life saving stem cell transplants.

By Donald Hudspeth, BS(CLS), MT(ASCP) and Sara Irrgang, MD, FCAP, FLORIDA MD, September 2011 Edition, pgs 33-34



So much research is going on with stem cells from cord blood as scientists work to unlock the secrets of stem cells.  Much of the research centers on the anti-inflammatory properties of stem cells from umbilical cord blood.

Medical research into stem cells is ongoing, offering the potential to treat diseases or injuries that have traditionally been difficult to manage. Clinical trials exploring the potential for umbilical cord blood as a treatment include:

Some of the many intriguing studies hope to find cures for many disorders that effect children and adult include: 

Repairing Brain Functions

Progress is being made in understanding how stem cells from umbilical cord blood can improve the lives of children suffering with Cerebral Palsy and Autism.

Stem Cells and Cerebral Palsy

In fact, a recently published study by researchers at Duke University of children with spastic cerebral palsy found that an infusion of their own cord blood improved both their brain connectivity and motor function.

Stem Cells and Autism

Research into treating Autism with stem cells from cord blood has shown potential for improving socialization.  Based on these promising results, research continues to decipher the connections.

Keeping Memories Alive

Researchers are also exploring stem cells from umbilical cord blood as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Exploratory studies in mice have shown that stem cells from umbilical cord blood reduce behavioral impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  These initial findings have justified further exploration of how stem cells from umbilical cord blood could play a role in a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


Stem cells perform three important functions:  1.  They renew themselves; 2. Differentiate into other cells; and 3. Renew other cells. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can restore the immune system following  chemotherapy or radiation for leukemia, lymphoma, and other life-threatening diseases.

Historically, HSCs have only been available from bone marrow and peripheral blood transplants.  As cord blood processing and storage technology has advanced over the last thirty years, it is now superior to both bone marrow and peripheral blood as a source of HSCs.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood are now widely used in clinical research and are a leading source of stem cells for cellular therapy.    In addition, stem cells from umbilical cord blood are increasingly available as transplant units stored in public and private cord blood banks steadily increase every year.

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood have some important benefits that stems cells from bone marrow and peripheral blood lack.    In considering private cord blood banking for your growing family, here are some highlights on the benefits of banking your child’s cord blood:

Cord Blood Offers More Than Bone Marrow

Should your child or another family member need a stem cell transplant, you’ll want to know there is a readily available genetic match.  The National Bone Marrow Registry and public cord blood banks won’t provide the same certainty as privately banked cord blood.

  • Your child’s stem cells are a perfect genetic match to them and a potential genetic match for siblings and other family members.  Finding a matching unrelated donor is less certain, particularly for minorities or mixed-race families.
  • Cord blood is collected in advance, tested, and stored frozen, ready for use.  Bone marrow donation requires finding a match, scheduling surgery, collection under general anesthesia, and recovery.
  • A small volume of cord blood can be used in transplants.  Bone marrow transplants require a quart of more of bone marrow and blood.

Cord Blood Has a Lower Risk of Complications

In thinking about the options for a stem cell transplant, safety and efficacy are critical to a full recovery.  Cord blood stem cells are superior to bone marrow stem cells in terms of risks of rejection, contamination, and infection.  They also outperform bone marrow in their ability to replace cells damaged or deceased from chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

  • Cord blood has a lower risk of graft-vs-host disease (GVHD). Approximately 10% of patients experience complications from chronic graft-versus-host disease from cord blood transplants versus 60% for bone marrow recipients.  Graft-versus-host disease occurs when immune cells from the donor (the graft) attack the recipient’s cells (the host).
  • Cord blood transplants have a low risk of tumor growth, low risk of viral contamination, and high cell proliferation capacity.
  • Latent viral infection is rare in cord blood donors.  Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is present in <1% of U.S. cord blood donors, but >50% of U.S. adult bone marrow donors.  Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that can infect almost anyone.  While it rarely causes problems for healthy individuals, it is a leading cause of death in bone marrow transplants as a result of their weakened immune systems.

Source:  Bioinformant Worldwide, LLC: Complete 2015 – 2016 Global Cord Blood Banking Industry Report


In addition to potentially life-saving stem cells, your newborn’s umbilical cord blood also contains their DNA.   Storing your child’s cord blood ensures that their baseline genetic information will be available if ever needed.

What Can Genes Tell Us?

The sum total of all the information coded into your child’s individual genes is their genome.  Simply put, it’s what makes your child unique.  Your newborn’s genome determines whether they’ll grow up to be right or left handed, have brown or blue eyes, if they’ll need glasses, and how well they’ll sleep at night.

The information locked away in your newborn’s genome can be decoded to help anticipate potentially serious health risks, both now and as they grow older.  Hospitals routinely conduct genetic screening tests on newborns using a heel prick test.  Using a small amount of a newborn’s blood they screen for a number of harmful or potentially fatal genetic disorders.  These tests help identify potential risks for biotinidase deficiency, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis, galactosemia, maple syrup urine disease, MCAD deficiency, phenylketonuria, severe combined immunodeficiency, sickle cell disease, tyrosinemia, and toxoplasmosis.

With decades of research into mapping the human genome, researchers have also identified many of the genes associated with worries that keep parents up at night as their children grow – whether they have any allergies to foods, vaccines, medicines; questions about their physical development; and risks for inherited diseases later in life, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Heart Disorders, Breast & Colon Cancer, or to any other diseases.

Genetic Insights from Cord Blood

Scientists working to map the entire human genome don’t yet know all the associations between genes, childhood health, and personal development.  However, what they’ve already discovered can be an early warning system for topics to discuss with your pediatrician.

Genetic testing of your child’s cord blood can identify potential food intolerances, like peanut allergies, lactose intolerance, and egg allergies.  It also can identify potential immunities to vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella, and smallpox; lethal reactions to medications like codeine; and difficulties metabolizing vitamins, such as D, B12, and E.  Armed with this knowledge, your pediatrician can do further testing to confirm whether there is cause for concern.

You doctor can use only a small portion of the stem cells you stored with us for genetic analysis.  They would simply contact us to request a small sample of your child’s stem cells for DNA analysis.  Our team will have it processed and shipped to them.

Banking Cord Blood Archives DNA!

Newborn DNA is unlike that of older children and adults.  In addition to the information about risks for inherited genetic diseases, it holds important baseline genetic information.

Doctors can compare this baseline genetic information later in life to find possible changes caused by environmental factors. Differences in the genome can provide insights into how food, drugs, stress, or exposure to toxins effect how genes function.  Understanding environmental versus inherited factors can help determine available treatment options.

Banking your child’s cord blood also stores a record of their baseline DNA if ever needed.


December 2, 2016


Cord For Life® has been accepting umbilical cord blood collections for private storage and public donation for over 15 years. Until recently, Cord For Life® was the only cord blood center that collected from national non-fixed sites (NFS) and fixed sites (FS) facilities. With others in the industry expanding to NFS collections, we compared our FS collections using Cord For Life® trained MDs, midwives, and collection staff to our national NFS collections to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the two programs.


The comparison was performed on all collection data from the years 2009 – 2010 where current acceptance criteria were constant. Using data entered in the StemSoft database system, the analysis examined total units received vs. registry placement and privately stored vs. publicly donated collections.


From the total donated units received 26% of FS collections were processed and placed on a registry. For NFS the total donations processed and placed on the registry was only 10%. Privately stored collections were 12% higher from the NFS while FS had 18% higher publicly donated units. The primary cause for unit rejection was low pre-TNC count (<12×108) often directly related to product volume. Excluding the pre-count the following were the next highest reasons for rejection:


Fixed site collections allow for stronger management and control resulting in a more efficient and successful collection. There is a significant advantage in decreasing “preventable” errors and overall optimizing collections. There are many challenges to consider before implementing a non-fixed site collection program.

Although a greater number of units were received from the non-fixed locations, the overall product quality is lower. Another consideration is timing; kit shipment to the client prior to labor and unit receipt at the laboratory can impact the ability to meet the regulated timelines.

Using monthly tracking data as a CPI tool we discontinued acceptance of weekend collections as “normal” courier service is limited. This change resulted in fewer units received >48 hours from collection, saving collection materials and shipping costs. Other findings include lower efficiency and higher per banked unit cost in the NFS model.

Success of a non-fixed collection program will rely on improved distance training, increasing efficiency to improve value and there must be an outlet for non-transplantable units. Visit us at or call 800-869-8608 for more information.


January 18, 2012

When you hear the term “stem cells”, what comes to mind? Religious controversy? Ethical debate? embryonic stem cell research? These associations are common, and unfortunately could be limiting how often stem cells are donated for use as a life-saving transplant.

Many people equate stem cells with embryonic stem cell research but non-embryonic (or adult) stem cells are different and they’re used every day in modern medicine to save lives. Furthermore, to date, embryonic stem cells have not been used for many human therapeutic purposes.

Nearly everyone knows someone that has had or needed a bone marrow transplant, but did you know that the transplant is actually of a type of stem cell? There are several types of adult stem cells that are far removed from their controversial embryonic cellular parents. Adult stem cells can be found in the bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood, fat tissue, teeth and many other sources.

Over 100,000 stem cell transplants have been performed in the U.S. Bone marrow was first used in the late 1960’s for transplants to combat leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. In the late 1980s, the first transplant using umbilical cord blood stem cells was performed. The success of this first cord blood transplant has led to several thousand more patients being treated with stem cells. Additionally, adult stem cells are being used in the field of regenerative medicine to further develop uses for these special cells in fighting other diseases.

The beauty of umbilical cord blood stem cells is that these cells are collected from what was once considered medical waste. After the normal delivery of a baby, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and about 150mL of cord blood remains in the cord. This cord blood is rich in stem cells that can be used as an alternative to bone marrow stem cells for transplantation. These stem cells from the cord blood can be used for treating more than 75 diseases.

In addition to the easy and non-invasive collection process for cord blood, these cells offer a few advantages over bone marrow stem cells when used for transplantation. Stem cells from cord blood are biologically much less mature than those from bone marrow of an adult donor. If we think of the immune cells as “warriors,” the “warriors” found in the adult marrow donor sample are fully capable of fighting and therefore a common problem in a bone marrow sourced stem cell transplant is graft vs. host disease (or GVHD). GVHD occurs when the donor cells attack the recipient cells and tissue as foreign. This can cause a very severe problem for transplant recipients and is a form of reverse rejection.

With cord blood sourced stem cell transplants, GVHD is typically far less prevalent and far less severe. This is because the “warriors” are less mature. The cells are not as capable of fighting. This is the same reason that newborn babies often constantly battle sniffles and colds; their immune system cells are not yet fully functional.

In the transplant setting, having these functionally immature immune cells allows the matching between donor and recipient to be less important. In a bone marrow source transplant, the donor must perfectly match the recipient, whereas in a cord blood sourced transplant, a less-perfect match can be used with similar success. This leads to more patients being able to find a suitable stem cell source for their needed transplant. According to recent data from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), non-Caucasian recipients in need of transplant are more likely to find suitable matches of cord blood stem cells than from adult marrow donors.

You can donate your cord blood for free or privately store it for a fee through the Altamonte Springs-based Cord For Life®. Because of cord blood, many more people, especially non-Caucasians, can receive the life-saving treatment they desperately need.

Winter Park/Maitland Observer

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