Cord blood stem cells offer promising autism treatment

A new and unique study by Stem Cells Translational Medicine shows noticeable improvements in socialisation in children with autism, when they were treated with their own cord blood stem cells.

The study was carried out on 30 children and is the first clinical trial into autism treatment, using banked newborn cord blood, in the United States. One of the most exciting outcomes was in the observed impact on language and socialisation of the children tested.

The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale for Socialization, one of the tests commonly used to measure real-world functional abilities, showed significant improvement after 12 weeks of cord blood treatment over placebo

- Dr. Chez, Sutter Neuroscience Institute

Unfortunately, the number of trial patients wasn't large enough for the study to reach significant conclusions on the results. However the contacted parents were pleased with the improvements in overall development they could see in their children. One mother, Jennifer Lundberg, said she noticed behavioural changes in her son Hayden straight away:

We had been trying for more than four years to have him potty-trained, and within two weeks he started to self-potty. We never thought this was possible,

He also now has this global understanding of language that he didn't have before. For example, I would ask him to open up the air-conditioning vents, and he all of a sudden knew what to do. He doesn't have the same outbursts that he used to have. It is truly amazing. If we could do it again, we definitely would do it again.

- Jennifer Lundberg, Orlando, FL 

The study was made possible through the Sutter Neuroscience Institute of Sacramento and the Sutter Institute of Medical Research. It mirrors the results of a similar non-blinded, open-label trial by Duke University, which demonstrated socialisation improvements in autistic children after an infusion of autologous cord blood.

This marks the start of further investigation into how cord blood stem cells can help children with autism. Click here to read about this autism study in full.