Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support.
All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
How Are Stem Cells Being Used to Treat Autism?
First-of-its-Kind Study Into Autism
A first-of-its-kind double-blinded, crossover study of children with autism who were treated with their own cord blood showed the treatment to be safe and suggests improvement in socialization.
The study involved 30 children and was conducted by Michael Chez, M.D. was the first randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial performed in the United States to assess the feasibility of treating autistic children by using their own newborn cord blood harvested from their banked umbilical cord. The study can be viewed here.
The Results of The Study
One of the most exciting outcomes of the study were trends toward improvements in areas such as socialization and language were observed.
“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 said.
However, when correcting for possible statistical chance when looking at many outcome variables, this observed significance no longer reached significance, probably due to variables such as only 30 patients in this pilot research study.
The study also mirrored a recent non-blinded, open-label Duke University trial that showed similar Vineland Socialization score improvements while also demonstrating that the use of autologous cord blood is safe for the children through intravenous infusions.
Parents contacted about the study were pleased with the improvements they saw in their children.
Jennifer Lundberg said she knew almost immediately when her son Hayden received the cord blood infusion as opposed to the saline.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Another mother who asked not to be identified said her young son also improved. “We saw improvements in his overall development – in his language and social interaction,” she said. “It definitely helped.”