Stem Cells 101: What They Are And What They Do
You must have heard the term stem cells quite sometimes lately. Everybody is talking about these stem cells. And why not, after all stem cells have been used to save lives since 50 odd years. These cells have been giving people with life-threatening diseases (Thalassemia, Leukemia, etc) a chance to lead long and healthy lives. But what exactly are stem cells? Well, stem cells lay the very foundation of our bodies. Every part of our body, including our skin, bones, teeth, muscles and organs are made up of stem cells. These are a class of undifferentiated cells, which are able to differentiate into specialized cell types. When a baby is formed in the mother's womb, it is nothing but a mass of stem cells. These stem cells slowly differentiate to become specialized cells such as skin cells, blood cells and so on, in order to make up the parts of the body.
These stem cells have certain special qualities that make them beneficial in health and medicine sectors. But the major qualities which led the stem cells towards the center stage are: their capacity to turn into any type of cell in the body, their ability to replicate limitlessly, and their ability to repair and regenerate other cells in the body. This means, stem cells can be used in the treatment of many medical conditions and to repair damaged cells. Research has proven that these stem cells, if preserved, can save you and your family from a large number of health conditions. This is why most parents-to-be are resorting to preserving their baby's umbilical cord blood.
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If you're wondering why umbilical cord blood, then let us tell you… while the stem cells are found in different parts of our body, the umbilical cord is the richest source of stem cells. The cells extracted from the umbilical cord, called as embryonic stem cells, can be safely and easily collected at the time of birth, and preserved to treat over 80 medical conditions. On the other hand, collecting the stem cells from another resource such as bone marrow, requires an invasive process.
When you store your baby's umbilical cord for its stem cells, you are storing an important medical resource. Newborn stem cells are younger and more flexible than stem cells taken from an adult (bone marrow, wisdom tooth, etc), which gives them better regenerative abilities, which means they can potentially treat more conditions! Every baby deserves a healthy life and this could well be your chance to give a lifetime gift to your baby.
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The bottom-line of the concept is – save today to secure tomorrow. A baby using his or her own cord blood will always have a 100% match for his or her own stem cells, but if a baby is to use his or her sibling's cord blood, then there is a 25% chance that it will be a perfect match for them, a 50% chance that it will be a partial match, and a 25% chance that it will be no match for them at all.
You can preserve your baby's stem cells with a family cord blood bank for a monthly fee. Some popular banks where you can store your baby's embryonic stem cells are Life Cell International, Cryo-Save India, Public Stem Cell Bank – Jeevan, etc. So go ahead, gift your little one a healthy life today!