Cord blood banking was just coming on the scene when my first daughter was born 11 years ago. Now, there’s another option available to women in the U.S. that’s long been available in Europe–banking your amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid banking complements cord blood banking. Doing one–banking cord blood–doesn’t negate the need for the other–amniotic fluid banking–because different types of cells are collected. Cord blood is for blood-related disorders. Amniotic fluid banking, on the other hand, harvests stem cells from amniotic fluid. When deep frozen in liquid nitrogen (to as low as negative 196 degrees C), amniotic fluid stem cells, when thawed, are viable for decades. They can grow in to a broad category of tissues and organs, including bone, cartilage, skin, and kidneys. Amniotic stem cells may even help the heart repair itself after heart attack. So you never know when your baby or a member of your family might need them.
Amniotic fluid banking is convenient. The cells are collected as part of a routine amniocentesis during the second trimester. Instead of throwing away the fluid, it’s preserved. There’s a cost for the service–$1,650 for the first year and $120 for every year after that. But Biocell, the company leading the amniotic fluid banking effort in the U.S., is willing to work with every interested family. In other words, you may not need to pay full price, depending on need. The cost of amniotic fluid may also be covered by your flexible spending account. For more information, visit http://www.healthywomen.org/content/ask-expert/7135/banking-amniotic-fluid.