Competition for the tooth fairy

You’ve heard of cord blood banks? They operate on the idea that the blood from your child’s umbilical cord can be used later to treat diseases like leukemia, sickle cell and metabolic problems among others. The problem is that it’s generally expensive and the likelihood that you’ll actually need it is difficult to predict. Costs range from $600-$2000 for the initial deposit in a private bank and then there’s a yearly storage fee that hovers around $100. The probability that you’ll need it can be anywhere from 1:1,000 to 1:200,000, depending on who you ask. It’s free to donate to a public cord bank, but there you’re not assured that you’d have access to the blood that you deposited.

Now, apparently, there’s a new cheaper option and it’s based here in Austin. BioEden can take your child’s baby teeth and extract stem cells from them that can be used to treat diseases. The cost is somewhat cheaper and for those of us that have kids that were too old or decided to delay the decision, we’ve got another option. I’ve inexplicably been saving my son’s baby teeth as he’s lost them. They’re sitting in a plastic baggie in the top drawer of my dresser. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m saving them. I don’t think I’m shelling out the money on the outside chance that they’ll help later though, especially since we don’t have a history of the types of things it might help. I wonder how long you can keep the teeth and still harvest the cells? I guess you’re SOL once the tooth is out and you haven’t put it in their special ToothSaver solution with ice packs?

Update (2006.07.17): The Statesman wrote a story about this today.

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