Treating Autism with Cord Blood

Autism is a disorder that affects communication and social interactions. Researchers don’t know what causes autism, but cord blood may become a viable treatment option for it in the future.

While many view autism as a communication disorder, especially in social situations, the disease may be caused by genetics, lowered oxygen levels and inflammation. Traditional treatment options, like antibiotics and oxygen therapy, only treat symptoms. However, stem cells may treat the root cause of autism, allowing doctors to reverse inflammatory problems and increase oxygen levels.

Doctors are currently researching new treatments, including stem cell therapy, for children with autism. An FDA clinical trial is testing cord blood transplants for autism – medical experts state these cells may drastically improve treatment options in the near future.

Stem cells are in the final stages of a clinical trial for Crohn’s disease, a condition with similar gut inflammation to autism. If stem cells are a useful treatment for inflammation, clinical trials for autism will help scientists discover new therapies for patients with this condition. Independent researchers report stem cells decrease inflammation and increase oxygen levels for patients with autism.

Symptoms

Common behaviors for autistic children include:

  • Speaking with an abnormal speech pattern
  • Resisting any sort of physical affection
  • Inability to express emotion
  • Avoidance of social environments

Stem cell therapy

The umbilical cord may be the most potent source of stem cells in the body, and many researchers are testing new therapies using these cells. When a patient donates an umbilical cord, medical staff remove the blood in the cord and extract stem cells.

While bone marrow is another valuable source of stem cells, patients using these cells must have an exact donor match, which is rare. However, patients treated with cord blood cells often use mismatched stem cells, since the body doesn’t recognize the “immature” cells as foreign. Cord blood also reduces the risk of graft-versus-host disease, where donated cells attack the body. Stem cells are injected into the patient’s veins, and naturally make their way to damaged areas of the body.

Advantages of cord blood treatment

  • Patients using cord blood cells have more treatment options, since these stem cells don’t require an exact match
  • Cord blood is the most anti-inflammatory source of cells in the body
  • Unlike bone marrow extraction, which may cause pain to the donor, cord blood is painless to collect, and can be administered immediately
  • Researchers report cord blood cells are more potent than stem cells from other sources, including bone marrow

Find out more about cord blood banking options.

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