Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental neurological condition that impedes an individual’s ability to communicate effectively and form relationships. Autism affects an estimated one in 59 children – occurring more often in boys – and results in developmental regression through a loss of skills and abilities.

As a spectrum disorder, symptoms are broad and varying in severity, but generally involve difficulties in the learning and use of spoken language and abstract concepts, as well as social and behavioural challenges. Symptoms usually surface from the age of two and can include:

Communication skills Social skills Behavioural patterns
  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • Sing-song voice or robotic speech
  • Frequent repeat of words or phrases
  • Difficulty forming new sentences
  • Difficulty grasping jokes or sarcasm
  • Difficulty understanding metaphors
  • Rarely making gestures and facial expressions when talking
  • Unable to stay on topic
  • Little or no response to own name by the age of one
  • Little desire to talk or play with others
  • Avoids or rejects physical contact
  • Poor understanding of own or other’s feelings and emotions
  • Difficulty identifying personal space of others
  • Prefers to be alone
  • Inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive
  • Clumsiness and poor coordination
  • Repetitive physical movements
  • Prefers set routines or rituals
  • Sensitive to touch, light and sound
  • Food dislikes are texture-based
  • Aggressive behaviour and negative reactions when given tasks

While the exact causes of autism are unknown, scientists believe it can originate from environmental, genetic and biological influences such as defective connections in the brain and the impact of a dysfunctional immune system on the nervous system. Other risk factors include neurochemical imbalances, chemicals, viruses and insufficient oxygen at birth.

Although there is no known cure for autism, clinical trials using stored umbilical cord blood have shown great promise in the treatment of the condition. Studies show that these stem cells, cryopreserved at birth, can treat autism by instructing other cells in the brain to repair. Autism stem cell therapy aims to restore damaged neuron connections, form new ones, and speed up brain reactions by improving synaptic transmissions.

A recent clinical trial offered an infusion of umbilical cord blood to 25 autistic children between the ages of two to five, of which more than 70% experienced significant improvements in autism symptoms. “Some children, who were not speaking very much, had big increases in their vocabulary and their functional speech”, reported pioneering researcher Dr Joanne Kurtzberg from Duke University Medical Centre. “Many children were able to play and have meaningful conversations. Some children had less repetitive behaviours than they did when they came onto the study.”

Reported improvements after stem cell therapy range from an increased immunity and metabolism, to enhanced communication skills (verbal and written), self-care skills, memory, attention span and learning capacity – ultimately giving hope for a much-improved quality of life.

Stem cell transplantation has been used in medical procedures for more than 50 years and play an important role in the treatment of bone marrow failures, blood cancers, blood disorders, metabolic diseases, immune deficiencies and autoimmune diseases. The ever-growing list of more than 80 treatable diseases may see autism added to it in the very near future.

Family stem cell banks, such as CryoSave, can assist in the collection of cord blood within the first 10 minutes after the birth of your child. The procedure is quick and painless, after which the cord blood is tested and cryopreserved in a secure, state-of-the-art storage facility – ready for a future miracle.

REFERENCES:

  1. CDC increases estimate of autism’s prevalence by 15%, to 1 in 59 children: https://www.autismspeaks.org/science-news/cdc-increases-estimate-autisms-prevalence-15-percent-1-59-children
  2. Umbilical cord blood – a cure for autism?: https://cells4life.com/2017/04/umbilical-cord-blood-cure-autism/
  3. Autism Stem Cell Therapy: https://stemcells21.com/neurological-treatments-with-stem-cells/autism-stem-cell-therapy/
  4. Autism and Stem Cells: https://cells4life.com/autism-and-stem-cells/
  5. What Are the Symptoms of Autism?: https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/symptoms-of-autism#1
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