Banking Umbilical Cord Blood: Description and Composition of Umbilical Cord Blood

Umbilical cord blood contains stem cells that can be used to treat blood related disorders later in the child’s life.

The pregnancy is coming to an end and there are a plethora of decisions to be made about the labor and delivery. An option that is available to moms today that was not available to previous generations is banking of the umbilical cord blood.

Umbilical Cord Blood Composition

Umbilical cord blood of a newborn is full of stem cells which are cells in the body that can be used to produce all parts of the blood. Stem cells can produce platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells. Stem cells are found in bone marrow as well as blood. Research has shown that stem cells can be used to treat certain genetic disorders. Proponents of cord blood banking promote the fact that new uses for stem cells are being developed in laboratories every year.

Stem Cell Treatments

Because stem cells can reproduce into any kind of blood cell in the body, they can be used to treat blood disorders. Stem cells can be injected into the body’s bloodstream to treat leukemia, sickle cell anemia and lymphoma. Patients who have bone marrow that has been damaged from cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation may also be able to benefit from the injection of stem cells. Once the stem cells are in the patient’s bloodstream, it is believed that they will create new, healthy cells that can ultimately cure the patient’s blood related disorder. Studies have shown that frozen cord blood can be viable for up to 15 years.

Banking Cord Blood

In order to bank an infant’s cord blood, parents must contact a cord blood bank early in the third trimester of the pregnancy. There are several private umbilical cord blood banking services available that all charge similar fees for their service. There is generally a collection fee as well as an annual fee. When the baby is delivered, the doctor or nursing staff will ensure that the umbilical cord blood is collected for storage at the umbilical cord blood bank.

Choosing to bank a baby’s umbilical cord blood is a personal decision. The storage fees over time can be very expensive but can also prove to be priceless if the investment later treats an illness in the child that saves his life. Parents should discuss the option with the obstetrician as well as the pediatrician to decide the best route for their individual situation.

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How to Bank Umbilical Cord Blood: Steps to Take to Ensure Safe Storage

Parents of newborns can choose to store the umbilical cord blood of the newborn for possible future medical use for the child.

The stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat a variety of genetic and blood related disorders. The umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells that are capable of reproducing healthy components of the blood.

Talk to the Doctor about Medical History and Cord Blood Banks

Choosing to bank your infant’s umbilical cord blood is a personal decision that requires research into the medical history of both families as well as the available storage options. Parents should consult the obstetrician to discuss medical history that could indicate a future need for the stem cells found in cord blood and get recommendations about private cord blood banking services. If the obstetrician is unfamiliar with cord blood banking, ask for a referral to another physician for discussion or consider contacting your child’s pediatrician for guidance. The obstetrician as well as the hospital will need to be aware of the decision to bank the umbilical cord blood in order for proper collection procedures to be followed after the delivery.

Research Umbilical Cord Banks

There are a number of both private and public banks that provide storage of umbilical cord blood. If the decision has been made to reserve the infant’s umbilical cord blood for possible future use for that child, private cord blood banks should be explored. Private cord blood banks charge collection fees as well as annual storage fees. If the decision is made to donate the umbilical cord blood, a public umbilical cord blood bank should be contacted. This option is available free of charge. Both services will provide a collection packet that should be taken to the hospital on the day of delivery.

When researching umbilical cord banks, it is important to do business with a reputable business that has a stable financial history. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any past complaints that could indicate an issue with the agency. The blood bank should provide a contract that will spell out all terms associated with the storage of the umbilical cord blood. Be sure the contract details what happens to the stored cord blood if the bank should go out of business. In addition, ensure that all fees are clearly spelled out so there will be no surprises once the umbilical cord blood has been stored.

Prepare for Collection of Umbilical Cord Blood

Once an umbilical cord blood banking service has been chosen, the agency should provide a collection kit. Take this kit to the hospital when admitted for the delivery of the baby. Inform all medical staff, including the obstetrician and nurses, of the decision to bank the baby’s umbilical cord blood. After collection is complete, the umbilical cord blood can be securely shipped to the agency to be preserved for storage. Current research shows that umbilical cord blood is suitable for use for 15 years after storage. While the blood may be viable after this point, there is not research to support this theory.

The decision to bank the umbilical cord blood should be made early in the third trimester. It is important to make the decision as early as possible to ensure the collection kit is received before the arrival of the baby.

Spanish Flu Different from Swine Flu Pandemic: Experts Suggest H1N1 Flu Virus No Cause for Panic

Many reporters and scientist cite the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 when discussing the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu). Yet key differences exist between the two pandemics.

Whenever talk of an influenza pandemic arises, invariably the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak is mentioned. The current H1N1 flu pandemic or Swine Flu virus is actually a strain or offshoot of the 1918 Spanish Flu virus, which increases the concern among health care workers about the virus’ ability to spread, infect, and kill people. Swine flu or H1N1 is a mix of four viral strains into a new, unique type. Yet there are critical differences between the 1918 outbreak and the 2009 outbreak.

The 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic

The 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic killed approximately 100 million people worldwide. It lasted from March 1918 to June 1920. Unlike other influenza epidemics, this particular strain caused 10-20% mortality as compared to less than .1% mortality and appeared to kill healthy young adults more so than infants and the elderly, the typical victims of flu. Researchers estimate that one third of the entire world’s population contracted Spanish Flu.

Critical Differences Between H1N1 and the 1918 Spanish Flu Outbreak

Scientists have long feared a second influenza pandemic. The last significant pandemic was the 1968 Hong Kong flu. Many critical differences between the 1918 outbreak and the H1N1 strain should put people’s fears to rest.

According to one of the biology reference sites, these differences include the following:

  • Spanish Flu was so deadly because it caused a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm is when the virus hijacks the body’s immune system and overwhelms it, thus negating the body’s natural defense.
  • Spanish Flu targeted the young and healthy. The Swine flu virus affects a mixed group of people.
  • Secondary infections such as bacterial pneumonia accounted for a huge number of deaths from Spanish Flu. Today, antibiotics combat bacteria pneumonia. Antibiotic medications did not exist in 1918.
  • Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu can be used to shorten the severity and duration of Swine Flu. These medications did not exist in 1918.
  • Breathing difficulties due to congestion and bleeding in the lungs also caused deaths from the Spanish Flu. Today, medical equipment such as ventilators (breathing machines) can assist breathing in severely ill patients.

World War I and Its Effects Upon the Spread of Spanish Flu

Another important consideration is the effects of World War I on the spread of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. During times of war, several factors coalesce to create the “perfect storm” for a pandemic.

  • Men are housed in close quarters such as barracks, creating an ideal environment for infection to spread.
  • Medical supplies during World War I may have been harder to obtain, with many supplies going to the war effort. What was available was primitive compared with modern medications and treatments.
  • Food shortages, rationing and poor quality food weakened the population of countries at war.

The only factor affecting today’s Swine flu outbreak is when people live in close quarters. Outbreaks of Swine flu reported in September 2009 on college campuses, especially in dormitories. But most Swine flu victims are ill for only about three days before feeling better. If complications arise, they can be treated in the hospital.

H1N1 Flu Pandemic No Cause for Panic

Dr. Jorge Parada, associate professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine says that H1N1 is no cause for panic. “It was the pre-antibiotic age. If you had post-influenza pneumonia, the likelihood of doing poorly and dying were much higher,” Parada said. “We’re in the antibiotic age now and we do a much better job of treating and preventing post-influenza pneumonia.”

Parada also points out that antiviral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza, if used in the early stages of infection, shorten the severity and duration.

“The earlier treatment is started, the more effective it is,” Parada said. “If treatment is started after 72 hours of symptoms, it has very limited effect. It has a greater effect if it’s started after 48 hours and an even better effect if it’s started within 24 hours of symptoms.”

Other weapons to fight H1N1 include flu vaccines and simple hygienic practices such as frequent hand washing or using hand sanitizers, staying at home if feeling ill, and avoiding crowds during known outbreaks. For those who do not wish to receive a flu vaccine, following natural and alternative methods to boost immune system response, such as avoiding sugar and increasing intake of fruits, vegetables and healthy foods, using herbs and homeopathic remedies might help.

Parada and other scientists caution that while H1N1flu pandemic is no laughing matter, it’s not time to panic yet. The world is a long way from the millions of deaths experienced during the 1918 pandemic. Hopefully, H1N1 will be a typical influenza virus and will disappear as quickly as it appeared.

Morgellons Disease – A Rare Medical Condition: Learn the Symptoms and Treatment

A rare new medical condition is currently under study investigations by the CDC because of the many unusual symptoms it has shown to produce.

The CDC has begun study investigation on a rare new medical condition that produces many unusual symptoms. This rare condition is called Morgellons Disease. There have been many reported cases of this disease where the patients report to experience moving fibers growing from within skin lesions on the body. These rare symptoms often lead doctors to improperly diagnose a patient with a psychiatric disorder instead of an actual medical condition.

The CDC began their investigation after the numbers of reported cases of Morgellons Disease began to rise. This disease has become so wide spread that all 50 states of the United States now report cases of Morgellons Disease. Florida and Texas have reported the most cases. Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have began reporting similar cases of Morgellons Disease. The only evidence that has come for the studies is the conclusion that the patients family members are likely to be affected by the condition as well.

Symptoms

Morgellons Disease produces very rare and very odd symptoms. These symptoms are so unique that patients are often disregarded as having a psychiatric condition. A common symptom of this condition is painful skin lesions that cause an intense and painful itching. Inside the skin lesions, patients report seeing white, blue, red, and black moving fibers. There have been many reports of odd sensations underneath the skin as if bugs were crawling in their skin or insects have been stinging them. Extreme fatigue has been associated with this disease as well as lack of concentration. Some patients have experienced vision disturbances and memory loss. The joints and muscles of the bodies can become painful. Behavioral changes and gastrointestinal disturbances have been reported. The skin on the body can begin to change texture and even color.

Treatment

Since Morgellons Disease is a relatively new condition, there is no known cure. So little is known about this condition that it is not even known if it is infectious. The cause of this rare disease remains unknown as well. Doctors can only recommend treatments to cope with this condition. The most important step for a patient to follow is to get frequent check ups by a trusting and understanding doctor. Alternative treatments may benefit the treatment of this disease so it is important to keep an open mind. Conventional medications have not shown to have any positive impact of treating Morgellons Disease.

Achondroplasia: A Form of Dwarfism

Acondroplasia is a rare genetic disorder characterized by short stature.

Acondroplasia features include disproportionate stature. This basically means that the arms and legs are relatively small when compared to the torso (body). The size disadvantage acondroplasia patients have is more observable in the upper legs and arms (proximal).

Additional signs include a prominent forehead (frontal bone), a prominent jaw, and a flat or depressed region between the eyes. On occasion, there is overcrowding of teeth, and the upper and lower dentition have bad alignment. The disease occurs in all races with equal incidence in women and men. Achondroplasia attacks one in 25,000 to one in 40,000 people.

The lower extremities of a patient with achondroplasia almost always turns bowed, and occasionally the elbow joint can’t be straightened out completely. The arms are short and stumpy and the feet can be small, flat and wide.

Causes of Achondroplasia

A chemical modification within a single gene results in achondroplasia. It does not arise from anything the parents have practiced during or prior to childbirth. Achondroplasia starts from an autosomal dominate condition. What this means is a new chromosomal mutation or genetic alteration began to take place at the time of conception.

The disease may also be communicated from one generation to the next; 9 out of 10 babies born with this illness have average-sized mothers and fathers. If one adult has the disease, there is a fifty percent probability their baby will inherit a copy of the gene. If the mother and father both have the disease there is a twenty-five percent chance the baby will have a dominant gene factor and a seventy-five percent possibility of a single achondroplasia gene. This gene is referred to as FGFR3 (fibroblast growth factor).

Other Illnesses Related to Achondroplasia

Babies with this disease have an inclination towards middle-ear infections. This may occur until 5 or 6 years of life, and it may be owing to abnormal draining from the “pipe” that leads from the middle part of the ear to the throat (pharynx). Respiratory troubles can happen in babies and children, due to constricted nasal openings.

An individual with achondroplasia will have the same life expectancy as an individual without the disease. Hydrocephalus (water in the central nervous system) can also occur in certain instances of achondroplasia.

Kids with achondroplasia may successfully reach motor milestones of growth, but differently and more gradually than youngsters without the disease. For example the baby with achondroplasia might take much longer to sit up than a baby who does not have the disease – but there could always be exceptions.

Pediculosis Explained: Having Critters in Your Hair

If you have children, you probably know that from time to time something occurs that is an all out and complete nightmare. Among these things is head lice or pediculosis.

Kids tend to be the most prone to acquiring pediculosis, particularly when they are still attending elementary school.

The most obvious culprit? Other children! You may observe that grownups very rarely ever contract pediculosis, but kids frequently do. As a matter of fact, it’s probably rare that you know one adult individual that did not get pediculosis as a child or has a kid who has already experienced something of this nature.

The Dangers of Pediculosis

Head pediculosis isn’t life-threatening and they do not spread diseases, but they’re contractible and can be quite bothersome for your youngster. Their stings may cause a youngster’s scalp to turn nail-bitingly excruciating and reddened, and long-term itching may lead to skin irritation and possibly infection!

The majority of parents realize what it’s like to have to experience something with your child and not be capable of dealing with it so when it comes to pediculosis capitis or body pediculosis you might not even find out your kid has it till you genuinely pay attention to a few key signs and symptoms.

There are a few things you can be watching out for in order to ascertain if your child has Pediculosis

Pediculosis eggs (also known as nits) seem like tiny brown, purplish, or yellow dots prior to them hatching. After hatching, the leftover shell looks light yellow or white. Pediculosis is when nits are deposited on hair follicles located at the skin’s surface, where the heat is ideal for keeping the eggs warm until they hatch.

Nits look much like dandruff, but they cannot be terminated by shaking or brushing them off. Unless the problem is utterly serious, it is more commonplace to see nits in a kid’s hair than it is to observe live pediculosis crawling on the scalp. The eggs hatch approximately 7 to 14 days after they are deposited.

Itching and Pediculosis

Scratching is a natural response to itching, but if your youngster is continuously scratching his scalp, it’s a good idea to have a look and see if you are able to notice anything! In addition, if they notify you about “little things” running around and tickling their foreheads this is a very dependable “sign” that they may be carrying pediculosis!

It is recommended that if your child does notify you of scratching or “tickling” you can take a fine-toothed comb and “sweep” his hair from side to side, look at his hair follicles and scalp. If you do discover something, it’s crucial that you call a physician who can recommend a effective shampoo or conditioner for your kid to eliminate the pediculosis. This is unquestionably not something you would like to delay!

These might be nonprescription or prescription drugs, contingent on what treatments have already been administered. Medicated pediculosis treatments normally wipe out the pediculosis and nits, but it could take a few weeks for the itching to cease.

Many people say that pediculosis is like varicella: once they contract it, they will most likely never get it again. This just isn’t the case regrettably!

Be on the lookout for pediculosis on your children and once you do come across its signs, be sure they see a physician right away. No one should accept this for a longer length of time than necessary.

The Symptoms and Treatment of Valley Fever: A Serious Fungal Infection with Common Symptoms

Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed because of the common cold symptoms it produces. If left untreated death can occur.

In the dry deserts of the world an often undiagnosed medical condition spreads through the wind infecting a wide range of unsuspecting people. This disease that can travel with the wind is called Valley Fever. This disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. This fungus can thrive in warm, dry environments like the deserts of Mexico and Arizona. The fungal infection is spread into the air when the soil is disturbed like in a dust storm. Because of this, people with digging jobs and contractors are often diagnosed with this condition. Once the fungus is in the air it is inhaled into the lungs resulting in Valley Fever.

The Risks

Although Valley Fever can affect anyone, many factors can increase a person’s risk for becoming infected with this disease. People with weak immune systems are likely to be infected, especially those that suffer from HIV/AIDS. Pregnant women and diabetics have an increased risk to Valley Fever.

Ethnicity has shown to increase a person’s risk for Valley Fever. Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and African Americans have shown to have a higher chance of getting Valley Fever than others. Filipinos are also known to frequently have this infection.

Environmental factors can increase a person’s risk for Valley Fever as well. The hot deserts, like those in the Southwestern United States, have high reports of this infection. Windy environments can increase a person’s risk. Construction workers, farmers, and other outside labor jobs increase the risk of contracting this disease.

The Symptoms

Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms associated with it are so common to colds and flu. Although Valley Fever has cold-like symptoms it is not contagious from person to person. Symptoms usually occur after the incubation period which lasts about one to three weeks. The symptoms of this disease are fevers, dry coughs, and chest pains. A person with this disease can also experience joint pain, fatigue, and headaches. Rarely, a rash or red bumps will be visible on the body. Because these symptoms are so similar to other illnesses Valley Fever often goes undiagnosed and untreated. It is then able to spread to other areas of the body.

Treatment

If Valley Fever is left untreated it can begin to infect other areas of the body. It can spread to the lymph nodes, other organs, bones, and skin. If it is left untreated for a prolonged period of time, the coverings of the brain and spinal cord can become infected.

Valley Fever can easily be diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor will ask a series of questions involving recent travel, environment conditions, and work history. Chest x-rays are used to diagnose this condition as well as blood tests. Anti-fungal medications are used to kill the infection. Frequent check ups and testing are needed to check to make sure the infection doesn’t reoccur.