Worried About Autism? The Proactive Treatment Giving Pregnant Moms Hope

Calling all mamas to be! Today we have a great article by Americord on current research being done for Autism + stem cell treatment. ENJOY!

Worried About Autism? The Proactive Treatment Giving Pregnant Moms Hope As a mother-to-be, it’s understandable to be concerned about autism. Approximately 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And while there are changes you can make to your lifestyle — such as exercising, avoiding processed foods and having a steady intake of vitamins — that will decrease the likelihood of your child being born with autism, your child’s health can still feel out of your control. Fortunately, recent medical studies involving stem cells have had some promising results. Stem cell therapy and cord blood banking are being used together to give pregnant women hope.

Why Stem Cells? Although the cause of autism hasn’t been identified for sure, studies are increasingly pointing to links between autism and inflammation typically found in the brain or the gastrointestinal system. As a result, scientists have been targeting this inflammation with stem cells. Because of their ability to repair and regenerate tissues and organs, stem cells are often used in medical therapy. One study in particular point to a brighter future for parents of children with ASD.

Has Stem Cell Therapy Helped? A trial carried out by Duke University researchers tested the effects of stem cells found in umbilical cord blood on 25 children with ASD, all between ages 2 and 5. Based on the results of the experiment, the researchers determined that the injecting stem cells was feasible and safe in addition to showing some encouraging signs. They noticed “significant improvements in behavior observed in the first 6 months post-infusion and sustained at 12 months” and an even greater improvement in children with higher baseline nonverbal IQs. Some areas where improvement was seen, either by the researchers or by the child’s parents, included social communication skills, vocabulary and attention to social stimuli, which was discovered using eye-tracking measures.

Where Do the Stem Cells Come From? The process of extracting adult stem cells can be painful because they are found in bone marrow or fat. However, the stem cells used to treat autism are taken from the umbilical cord, which can be painlessly collected at birth, processed and stored in a cord blood bank. Stem cells can be harvested from the cord blood (hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs) or from the cord tissue (mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). A less complicated and painful procedure is important, especially for children that are hypersensitive, a common issue in children with ASD. Additionally, stems cells from an umbilical cord are more potent than adult stem cells. They also allow a physician to administer uniform doses and, because your child’s body won’t see them as foreign, it won’t reject the cells.

Keep Optimistic It’s important to recognize that, while researchers are “optimistic about the results,” there is much more work to be done. Because of the positive outcomes of stem cell therapy so far, scientists are continuing to test the positive effects of stem cells on ASD with more definitive trials. In the meantime, being proactive about your child’s health could be the key to a brighter future for your entire family.