Cord Blood May Benefit Children With Autism and No Intellectual Disability
A single infusion of cord blood (the blood that remains in the placenta and attached umbilical cord after childbirth) does not improve social skills or reduce symptoms in children with autism and an intellectual disability, according to a new study, published May 19 in the Journal of Pediatrics.
According to a report by Physicians Weekly.net, the study was led by Dr. Geraldine Dawson, of the Duke University School of Medicine. Dawson and her colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 180 children with autism between 2 and 7 years old. While some of the children received a single infusion of cord blood, others received a placebo. The children were assessed six months after the infusion.
The researchers found that the children with autism and no intellectual disability showed improvements in language abilities, ability to sustain attention measured in eye-tracking, and increased alpha and beta EEG power, a measure of brain function. The researchers did not find these improvements in the children with autism and an intellectual disability.
“The results of the present study do not currently support the use of CB as a treatment for autism outside a formal or expanded access investigational new drug-sponsored clinical trial,” the authors wrote. “Future research is warranted to determine whether CB is an effective treatment for autism.”
“We learned a lot from this initial study," Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, a senior author on the manuscript, said. "In the future, we hope to conduct a trial designed for children with autism who have intellectual disability focusing on outcome measures that can be targeted to test this group of children. We also used lessons learned from this study to design an ongoing study testing other cell therapies in older children with autism without intellectual disability."