Mommy MD Spotlight: Celebrating Research Efforts for Autism Awareness Month

The symbol for Autism awareness is a puzzle. Autism is a complex developmental disorder affecting social, language, and behavioral skills,1 with no known cure. It is a growing public health issue, with 1 in 68 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) each year in the U.S. alone2 – a number that has increased by 30% since 2008.2 The exact cause of autism is unknown but some researchers believe that faulty or inadequate connections in the brain may play a role.3 Perhaps putting the pieces of the puzzle together, from the people who live with autism, to their parents, and physicians, will help us solve it.

Sutter Neuroscience Institute

In the meantime, a new piece to the puzzle is being studied now: assessing the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells as a potential treatment for autism. Cord Blood Registry® (CBR®) has teamed up with researchers at Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, CA, to study the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells as a potential treatment for select patients with autism. This research was prompted by evidence that suggests that some children with autism have dysfunctional immune responses that may affect normal development of the nervous system.4 This first-of-its-kind, placebo-controlled clinical trial will evaluate the ability of an infusion of cord blood stem cells to help improve language and behavior in children with autism.5

A Search For Answers

Although more is understood about ASD than ever before, including which children are more likely to be identified, at what age they are likely to be diagnosed, and what factors may be putting them at risk, there remains an urgent need to continue the search for answers and provide help to people living with ASD.2 That’s why CBR is partnering on an FDA-regulated clinical trial focused on autism that has enrolled children diagnosed with ASD.

For the study, the researchers enrolled 30 children, ages 2 to 7. Each child received two infusions—one of his or her cord blood stem cells and another of a placebo—over the course of 13 months. Because the study is double-blind, neither the children, the children’s parents, nor the physicians will know which infusion he or she received.1

It is my hope that this study will help to advance our understanding about this condition—and pave the way for more research to help us solve the puzzle of autism.

This post was co-authored by Rallie McAllister and Gina Satta.

About the authors: Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, is a mom of three sons, family practice physician, and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth, in Lexington, KY. Dr. McAllister is a paid consultant to CBR.

Gina Satta is a writer, namer and new mom living in San Francisco. When she isn’t brainstorming brilliant copy, she is either looking for parking, making up new versions of classic nursery rhymes, or eating chocolate. Gina is a paid consultant to CBR.


  1. Centers for Disease Control: of Access: March 31, 2016.
  2. “10 Things To Know About New Autism Data.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, March 31, 2014.  Web. Date of Access: March 25, 2016.
  3. Pardo CA, Eberhart CG. (2007). The Neurobiology of Autism. Brain Pathol. 17(4): 434-47.
  4. Chez MG, Guido-Estrada N.(2010). Immune therapy in autism: historical experience and future directions with immunomodulatory therapy. Neurotheraputics, 7(3):293-301.
  5. Accessed April 22, 2016.

One thought on “Mommy MD Spotlight: Celebrating Research Efforts for Autism Awareness Month

  1. We are going to celebrate Autism Awareness month by sharing our scientific autism resources. We want the widest possible group of people to benefit caregivers, practitioners, family members and more. Together we can share not only studies, but also new insights and potential solutions.

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