In the past few months, several parents have contacted us with questions about the impact of COVID-19 on umbilical cord blood banking. Some parents have been concerned about the possibility of the virus somehow contaminating cord blood stem cells, while others are worried that their child’s cord blood sample would not be processed on time.
We have had so many questions that we decided to create this frequently asked questions page on the topic. If you have any additional questions, please contact us on +971 4 3116613.
Do pregnant women have a higher risk of COVID-19?
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to the general population.
However, as a precaution, pregnant women have been listed as one of the groups with a “moderate risk” of COVID-19. They are deemed moderate risk because pregnancy changes how the immune system responds to viruses.
This means there is a small chance that the virus may trigger more severe symptoms than normal. So, even though there is no evidence it affects pregnant women more severely, theoretically there is a higher risk of severe symptoms.
Is it possible for an infected mother to pass COVID-19 to their baby?
Researchers have not found any cases of a COVID-19 infected mother passing the virus to their child. However, researchers have identified three potential ways that the virus may travel between mother and baby — intrauterine, vertical and intrapartum transmission.
Even if the virus was passed to a newborn baby, it would be unlikely to cause problems relating to their development. So far, all of the new-born babies who have contracted coronavirus shortly after birth recovered from the virus quickly and are now healthy.
Can umbilical cord blood contain COVID-19?
Researchers have not found any evidence to suggest that umbilical cord blood can contain COVID-19. This has proven to be true even when the mother has tested positive for COVID-19 during the time of delivery.
The reason for cord blood’s immunity to COVID-19 is the way the virus is transmitted. It is primarily an air borne virus that is transmitted through the mucosal membranes, instead of through blood.
Several studies have looked into the likelihood that viruses like COVID can spread into blood, including a research project conducted in 2006 by the American Red Cross. This study found that the blood supply would be safe during an influenza pandemic, because of the limited presence of blood in viruses and the transmission mechanics of influenza viruses.
One study, conducted in Wuhan, involved nine pregnant women who had tested positive COVID-19. After the women gave birth via caesarean section, the researchers tested the amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood for the signs of COVID-19. They also used neonatal throat swabs and tested the mothers’ breastmilk at a later date.
None of the samples tested positive for COVID-19, suggesting that coronavirus cannot be present in the placenta or within umbilical cord blood.
Can COVID-19 exist in the placenta?
The placenta is a remarkable organ which is responsible for providing nutrients to the developing foetus and for removing waste. It also acts as a protective barrier against any harmful diseases that the mother may contract and allows protective antibodies to be transfused from mother to child.
A study was performed in China earlier this year to determine if COVID-19 would pass from into the placenta and the unborn child. The researchers assessed 6 babies born to mothers who were diagnosed with COVID-19. They found that none of the babies had the virus.
Interestingly, the researchers also discovered that the babies had antibodies for COVID-19 in their blood, so the mother’s body was protecting the baby from the virus. Although this study had a small sample size, it is more evidence that COVID-19 will not affect travel through the placental tissue to an unborn child.
Can your bank stem cells during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, you can still bank your child’s umbilical cord blood. Cells4Life remains fully operational.
On your delivery day, simply bring your collection kit with you to the hospital and hand it over to your OB-GYN or midwife so they can perform the collection after birth.
WATCH: HOW CORD BLOOD BANKING WORKS
Why should parents save their child’s stem cells during COVID-19?
For many parents, the pandemic has placed their focus onto the health of their family. This has led to a dramatic increase in interest in cord blood banking, which is an innovative way to safeguard your family’s future health.
There are already over 85 different conditions treated by umbilical cord stem cells, including many forms of cancer, immune system disorders, and blood disorders.
Cord blood is also the central focus of hundreds of clinical trials, which are looking into the use of stem cells for treating conditions including spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, dementia, arthritis, heart disease, and stroke.
The incredible regenerative and anti-inflammatory capabilities of stem cells have even made them an important asset in the fight against COVID-19. There are 15 ongoing clinical trials testing the capacity of stem cells to treat COVID-19 and many researchers believe that stem cells could be the key to helping people survive this deadly virus.
To learn more, speak to one of our cord blood banking specialists at +971 4 3116613.
“Prevalence of selected viral infections among blood donors deferred for potential risk to blood safety” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17076856/
ClinicalTrials.gov, (2020) “Umbilical cord stem cells”, available at:
ClinicalTrials.gov, (2020) “Umbilical cord stem cells | COVID”, available at:
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, (2020) “Coronavirus infection and pregnancy”, available at: https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/
Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, (2020) “Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection in Pregnancy”, Information for health care professionals, available at:
Shimian Zou, (2020) “Potential Impact of Pandemic Influenza on Blood Safety and Availability”, Transfusion Medicine Reviews, available at:
Zeng et al., (2020) “Antibodies in Infants Born to Mothers With COVID-19 Pneumonia”, JAMA, avaliable at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763854