Medical study suggests banked cord blood can potentially treat a sibling with cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood (Capute and Accardo, 2008). It is a condition associated with impaired muscle coordination, usually caused by severe damage to the brain before or at birth. It is estimated that 1 out of every 323 children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (Christensen et al., 2013). In fact, approximately every 15 hours, a child is born with cerebral palsy in Australia alone. Although there are ways to manage and cope with the disability through therapy, there is no cure for cerebral palsy.
Recent studies demonstrate that children with cerebral palsy who received their own (autologous) umbilical cord blood (containing stem cells) showed dramatic improvements in both functional and cognitive development. Unfortunately, many families did not have the opportunity to receive such treatments because they did not bank their child’s cord blood at birth.
Fortunately, therapy is starting to become more widely available for families who did not bank their child’s cord blood. Trials are now being performed to investigate the effectiveness of using sibling cord blood as a means for treatment. These trials are funded by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Cell Care, Australia’s largest family cord blood bank.
It should be noted, however, that the odds of a perfect HLA match (factor in determining donor suitability) from a sibling are only 25%. Thus planning is underway to further expand treatment options from HLA matching (and even partially matching) unrelated donors.
Although these trials show promising results, one should not underestimate the importance of banking their child’s cord blood as a child’s own cord blood is always more effective for any kind of therapeutic treatment.
Christensen, D., Braun, K. V., Doernberg, N. S., Maenner, M. J., Arneson, C. L., Durkin, M. S., . . . Yeargin-Allsopp, M. (2013). Prevalence of cerebral palsy, co-occurring autism spectrum disorders, and motor functioning - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, USA, 2008. Dev Med Child Neurol Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 56(1), 59-65. doi:10.1111/dmcn.12268.
Capute and Accardo’s Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in Infancy and Childhood, Third Edition. Edited by Pasquale J. Accardo, MD. 2008, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co, Baltimore, MD. p17.
Verter, Frances 2016, ‘Sibling cord blood therapy for cerebral palsy’, Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation, March, accessed on 16 March 2016, available at: http://parentsguidecordblood.org/en/news/sibling-cord-blood-therapy-cerebral-palsy.