After nine long months of pregnancy, you’ll be faced with a whole slew of important decisions as your baby’s birth approaches. You’ll need to think of a name, decide whether or not to breastfeed, and choose a pediatric doctor all before you even meet your little bundle of joy for the first time. Modern medicine has improved many aspects of newborn care, and sometimes those advancements will bring on new questions you’ll have to answer at the time of delivery. One such advancement is the ability to bank or save your baby’s umbilical cord blood.

In the event of your child needing his or her own blood for a transfusion or medical treatment later in life, he or she could use the blood from the umbilical cord. The blood is extracted from the cord after the baby is born, so it does not cause any pain or put the baby at risk in any way. The stem cells in umbilical cord blood can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions including leukemia, metabolic disorders, and sickle cell anemia. By banking your child’s cord blood, you are giving him or her a better chance of seeking treatment and surviving such conditions.

Unfortunately, there is one major drawback to banking your baby’s cord blood. The storage the can be expensive, and many families can’t afford it. Especially in addition to the expenses associated with a newborn, banking is too costly. Some facilities charge $2,000 for the initial investment and up to $200 annually for the blood’s safe storage. This is certainly a huge amount of money, but if you are unlucky enough to become the parent of a very sick child, it could prove to be the best money you have ever spent.

Paying outrageous amounts of money to bank your baby’s cord blood is a gamble. You might pay the fees only to never need the blood, or you might try saving money and gravely regret your decision some day. Unless you have thousands of dollars to spare, it’s okay to pass on cord blood banking. Even if your child does come down with one of the diseases that it could have treated, he or she can receive blood from the donations of others and be treated just as effectively. For that reason, you should always donate your baby’s cord blood if you cannot afford to bank it.

Source: John E Wagner et al: Umbilical Cord Blood Transplantation. Seminars in Hematology Volume 47 Issue 1 pp. 3-12 January 2010