The COVID-19 pandemic, first surfaced in China, has infected over three million and caused more than 200,000 deaths around the world in less than five months. While most pediatric patients displayed mild and moderate symptoms, medical experts have warned that young children, especially infants, are vulnerable to infection.
A number of reports of newborn babies tested COVID-19 positive have created great anxiety among the general public, particularly the parent-to-be, fearing that there could be a vertical transmission between mothers and newborn babies.
But latest clinical research has not only brought relieving news to parents but also reaffirmed pregnant mothers’ confidence in banking the cord blood of their newborns. Two studies, based on data from small groups of COVID-19-affected mothers in Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak in China, have shown no evidence for intrauterine infection caused by vertical transmission in women who developed COVID-19 pneumonia in their pregnancy.
One study conducted tests on amniotic fluid, cord blood, neonatal throat swab, and breastmilk samples from six out of nine participants infected with the COVID-19 virus who had a caesarean section. All samples tested negative for COVID-19.
The other analyzed the clinical features and outcomes of 10 babies born to nine mothers with confirmed COVID-19 infection. While researchers found that perinatal COVID-19 infections may have adverse effects on newborns, causing problems such as fetal distress, premature labor, and respiratory distress, they found no evidence of vertical transmission of the disease from mothers to babies.
While the sample sizes of the COVID-19-related studies were generally small, their research results nonetheless point to a promising use of umbilical stem cells in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr. Scott Faulkner, an internal medicine doctor at Grand River Hospital in Rifle, Colorado, quoted another study in an interview that, “Seven patients got the umbilical cord stem cells, three got placebos. All seven of the patients who were treated – and these are severe and critically severe patients – every last one of them got off the ventilator and walked out of the hospital.”
Prior to the clinical studies on the potentials of umbilical stem cells on treating COVID-19 patients, cord bloodhas been shown to successfully treat over 80 diseases including cancers (such as leukemia, lymphomas, myelomas), blood disorders (such as thalassemias, sickle cell anemia, Fanconi’s anemia), and immune deficiency diseases. Recently, cord blood stem cells have been used in clinical trials to repair damaged tissues and organs (regenerative medicine), and the outcomes have been promising