What are cord blood stem cells? How are they used in medicine?

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In recent years you might have heard about the use of stem cells in medicine. Despite the news coverage, it can be a bit difficult to understand how stem cells work and when they can be used. We’re here to help.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the building blocks of life. They’re found in our body’s organs, tissues, blood, and immune system and have the unique ability to regenerate and develop into different cell types. These powerful little cells are able to help repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, making them a valuable resource for medicine and research.

Where are they found?

Stem cells used in modern medicine generally come from one of three sources: umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and peripheral blood.

Umbilical cord blood stem cells are special because they’re easily accessible and are “young” cells, meaning they’re more likely to result in a successful outcome when used in medicine. The best time to collect these special cells is minutes after your baby is born. Collecting umbilical cord stem cells is a straightforward, quick, and painless procedure for both mom and baby.

If you’re interested in learning more about cord blood stem cells, you can request an information kit from our partners at ViaCord.

How do stem cells work?

To oversimplify, when healthy stem cells are transplanted into a patient’s body, they hone in on the damaged or diseases cells and replace them – often improving the patient’s health and, in some cases, saving the patient’s life.

Regenerative medicine, relatively speaking, is in its infancy in terms of study and practice. But in less than a generation, it is already proving to be a powerful and promising science. Ongoing research is using stem cells to either regenerate, or facilitate the repair of, cells damaged by disease, genetics, injury, or simply aging.

What conditions can use cord blood stem cells?

For decades, cord blood stem cells have been used in transplant medicine to help people who are battling diseases. Today, stem cells can be used in the treatment of nearly 80 life-threatening diseases1, including certain cancers, blood disorders, and genetic diseases.

Promising new research is exploring the possibility of cord blood stem cell therapies for conditions like cerebral palsy2 and autism3 which currently have no treatment options. These applications fall under the regenerative medicine category and are an exciting advancement only made possible by the introduction of stem cell therapies.

What does this mean for me?

As an expecting parent you have the opportunity to save your newborn’s umbilical cord blood stem cells, securing your family a medical resource that would otherwise be discarded. If cord blood banking is something you’d like to take advantage of you’ll need to make arrangements for the collection and banking before your baby arrives – ideally any time before week 34.

ViaCord is the preferred collection service of many moms, thanks to their customer service, commitment to supporting research, and their new storage bag, called the VC 5X.


It’s a slick name, but what it describes is how ViaCord stores your baby’s stem cells – in a five-compartment storage bag instead of the common two-compartment bag. This means your family and doctor will have more options and greater flexibility when it comes to using your baby’s stem cells if ever needed.

Having access to stem cells may provide a treating physician with more options, but it doesn’t guarantee results. Only a doctor can decide when stem cells can be used. Sometimes having options can make all the difference when it comes to providing the best care for your family.

Incredible advances are happening using cord blood. That’s why our partners at ViaCord are offering Ovia moms their high quality cord blood banking for only $900.*

Get info kit

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  • Moise K Jr. Umbilical cord stem cells. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(6):1393-1407.
  • Jessica Sun, MD, Mohamad Mikati, MD, Jesse Troy, PhD, Kathryn Gustafson, PhD, Ryan Simmons, MS, Ricki Goldstein, MD, Jodi Petry, MS, OTR/L, Colleen McLaughlin, DNP, Barbara Waters-Pick, BS, MT(ASCP), Laura Case, PT, DPT, Gordon Worley, MD and Joanne Kurtzberg, MD. “Autologous Cord Blood Infusion for the Treatment of Brain Injury in Children with Cerebral Palsy.” Oral and Poster Abstracts presentation. 57th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 7, 2015; Orlando, FL. Abstract 925.
  • Jessica M. Sun, Joanne Kurtzberg. “Cord blood for brain injury.” Cytotherapy, 2015; 17: 775-785
Disclaimer: Banking cord blood does not guarantee that treatment will work and only a doctor can determine when it can be used. Cord tissue stem cells are not approved for use in treatment, but research is ongoing. Click here for more details and references.
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