Can Stem Cells Treat Pediatric Brain Injury?

In 2013, the National Center for Biotechnology Information published statistics of birth deficiencies around the world. It was said that according to the Global Report on Birth Defects presented by March of Dimes in joint collaboration with the World Health Organization, nearly 7.9 million births have been recorded with severe birth defects all over the world. Unfortunately, 94% of these conditions occur in developing countries. In India alone, neonatal mortality due to birth defects ranges from 61 to 69.9 per 1,000 births. Fortunately, hope comes in the form of umbilical cord blood banking.

Advancement of Stem Cell Therapy

Major birth defects include neural tube defects, congenital heart defects, autism, Down’s Syndrome, pediatric stroke, cerebral palsy, pregnancy injuries and hearing impairment, to name a few. And these are the cause of nearly 20% of the infant mortality and childhood hospitalization cases seen around the world. Due to biomedical advancements, stems cells drawn from the bone marrow and umbilical cord blood have proven enormous healing and therapeutic properties. This was the first permanent answer to such neonatal conditions. They have also been used to treat conditions like spinal and liver injury, lung and heart injury, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. So how successful has it been in treating brain injury?

Pediatric Brain Injury

Brain injury in children can be caused pre or post birth. However, the effects are more or less the same. Brain injury affects cognitive-communication, learning abilities, language skills and logical reasoning. In most cases, the injury is left undiagnosed until the later stages of development. Until a few years ago, treatment for this was only rehabilitation. However, with the availability of umbilical cord blood banking and advancements in stem cell research, there is hope for successful treatment of pediatric brain injury.

Scope of Stem Cells in the Treatment of Brain Surgery

On October 2013, researchers at the University of South Florida suggested that stem cells might have the potential to repair traumatic brain injury. And so, a series of clinical trials were conducted and it was seen that the stem cells built a “biobridge” linking the uninjured parts of the brain with the damaged region. This is because stem cells found in adult bone marrow or those drawn from cord blood have the potential to perform different functions.

These multi-potent cells can be manipulated to perform as neural cells and offer a ray of hope for traumatic brain injury. Although clinical trials are still under way, researchers are hopeful of success in the near future. This is why umbilical cord blood banking has been gaining ground all over the world.