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Cord Blood Stem Cells May Help Treat Children with Hearing Loss

Cord Blood Stem Cells May Help Treat Children with Hearing Loss

New research investigating the use of a child’s own (autologous) umbilical cord blood in the treatment of hearing loss has yielded positive results, as reported in the Journal of Audiology and Otology.

Over 2,000 babies are born in Canada every year with hearing loss making it one of the most common defects at birth1. Hearing loss has been proven to affect a child’s speech, behavior, academic performance, along with their emotional and social development.

The study, conducted at the Florida Hospital for Children, demonstrated that the infusion of autologous cord blood in children with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) is safe, feasible and may provide improved hearing in patients with SNHL.

SNHL is defined as hearing loss due to permanent damage or dysfunction of the inner ear (as opposed to other structures of the ear) and there is currently no cure.

Eleven children with moderate to severe acquired SNHL, ranging from 6 months to 6 years old, participated in the trial using their own cord blood2 which was stored at a family bank. The participants’ auditory functions were assessed before and after the treatment, along with verbal language assessments and brain imaging.

Preliminary data suggests clinical improvements in some children with an infused dose of at least 15 million cells for every one kilogram of body weight compared to children treated with a lower dose. These promising results from the Phase I study support further research into the effect of the use of umbilical cord blood in treatment of children with SNHL.

For over 30 years, cord blood stem cells have been used in transplantation for more than 40,000 patients worldwide to help treat cancers, blood disorders, and immune disorders.3 New therapies are also being researched for potential future uses of cord blood for conditions including type-1 diabetes, cerebral palsy and autism.

Expectant parents are encouraged to learn more about their cord blood and tissue storage options.

  1. http://www.hearingfoundation.ca/newborn-hearing-screening/
  2. Baumgartner et al J Audiol Otol 2018 Aug 22 [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Ballen K. Update on umbilical cord blood transplantation. F1000Res. 2017;6:1556. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.11952.1.