The human body is impressive in its ability to heal itself, and this is especially the case in children. With the proper care, a child’s body can easily manage to repair everything from broken bones to scraped knees. But there are some things the body is not capable of healing on its own, and deafness is one of them.

Thankfully, with bold new advances in cord blood treatments, this may one day be overcome. In a recent clinical trial, autologous umbilical cord blood (blood collected from the recipient at birth) was used in children with acquired sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) – a type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or cranial nerve VIII, or through birth deficiencies in cochlea hair cells.

Dr James Baumgartner, MD and paediatric surgeon at Florida Hospital for Children, and Linda Baumgartner, Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist at Little HEARoes and Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, tested the treatment in 11 children with acquired SNHL.

The study demonstrated that the infusions were safe and well tolerated. In addition, 45% of participants showed improvements in Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) after their infusion. “We found a statistically significant improvement in a measure of hearing based on one of the tests we performed,” said Dr Baumgartner. “This may be an indication that new-born stem cells help the ear repair itself in some children with hearing loss.”

Cord blood stem cell therapy is currently used to treat more than 80 blood-related diseases, and, as this trial highlights, new treatment protocols are being developed to manage an increasing number of disorders. It also highlights the importance of banking blood at birth to combat later health challenges. CryoSave SA, one of South Africa’s leading family stem cell banks can assist in the collection of cord blood within the first 10 minutes after the birth of your child. The cord blood is extracted, tested and cryopreserved in a secure, state-of-the-art storage facility, ready to be used.

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