HealthDay News — A single infusion of cord blood (CB) does not improve socialization skills or reduce autism symptoms among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study published online May 19 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., from the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues conducted a prospective randomized trial involving 180 children (aged 2 to 7 years) with ASD who received a single intravenous autologous or allogeneic CB infusion versus placebo (56, 63, and 61 children, respectively); children were assessed six months after the infusion.

The researchers found that the infusion of CB was safe and well tolerated. There was no evidence that CB was associated with improvements in the primary outcome of social communication or the secondary outcomes of autism symptoms and vocabulary based on an analysis of the entire sample. No evidence was found for differential effects by type of CB infused. CB was associated with improvement in a larger percentage of children on the clinician-rated Clinical Global Impression-Improvement scale for allogeneic, but not autologous, CB in a subanalysis of children without intellectual disability, but the odds ratio for improvement was not significant. Significant improvements in communication skills and exploratory measures, including attention to toys, sustained attention, and increased alpha and beta electroencephalographic power, were seen for children without intellectual disability treated with CB.

“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 write. “Future research is warranted to determine whether CB is an effective treatment for autism.”


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Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry; several authors have patents pending.

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