Once the doctor or midwife has collected the blood, it's placed into a collection bag and delivered to a cord-blood bank, where it is given an identifying number and frozen in liquid nitrogen. Theoretically, the stem cells can last indefinitely if stored properly.
"You bank your baby's cord blood and hope that you never have to use it, but you know it will be there if you need it," said Dr. Dado. "This invaluable resource can be lifesaving for your child and for other family members."
As research advances, it's likely that the use of cord blood stems cells will become even more commonplace and more beneficial in the future.
"I believe that if a child of this generation has a heart attack as an adult, the nurse at the hospital will ask, 'Do you have your cord blood banked?' There’s an excellent chance that the answer to this question will determine the first step of treatment," said Dr. Francis.
Dr. Rallie McAllister is the cofounder of MommyMDGuides.com and the coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth and The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year, which all feature tips that doctors who are also mothers use for their own families. She's a board-certified family physician, author, mother of three, and grandmother of one.