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Autism News

May 16, 2017            

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Can infusion of own cord blood treat autism in toddlers?

Inconclusive study promising, but shows no cause-and-effect

Results from a small but extensive study of 25 toddlers with autism indicate that symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might be treated by infusing kids with their own cord blood.


The Phase I study was conducted by Duke University Medical Center and published in early April in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.


“We hypothesized that umbilical cord blood-derived cell therapies may have potential in alleviating ASD symptoms by modulating inflammatory processes in the brain,” researchers wrote.


For the study, researchers recruited 25 children between ages two and five whose parents had saved their kids’ umbilical cord blood at blood banks, which are used by those who believe in them as precautionary measures against any future need for transfusions or DNA/stem cell implants.


The youthful participants were first tested with several authoritative behavioral and functional tests to establish a baseline then infused with their own cord blood.  The same tests were then administered six and 12 months later.


Parent reports and clinical assessments indicated that over two-thirds of the children saw improvements in autism symptoms—mostly during the first six months after infusion.


“Significant improvements in behavior were found across a wide range of outcome measures in this study,” the scientists wrote.


However, buried deep in the study’s fine print was this key “but”: “It is not possible to determine whether the observed behavioral changes were due to the treatment or reflect the natural course of development during the preschool period.”


In other words, did the kids improve because of the blood infusions?  Or because they simply grew?


Researchers are now enrolling participants in a Phase II randomized clinical trial.

Medicated ADHD kids do worse in school: study

“To our knowledge, this is the first nationwide study to compare educational outcomes of children with treated ADHD with their unaffected peers,” wrote University of Glasgow (Scotland) researchers in a May 1 study in JAMA Pediatrics.  “This investigation is more than 20 times larger than previous studies reporting similar educational outcomes.”

Their study reviewed 2009-2013 data from four national health databases and four national education databases—covering over 766,000 schoolkids ages four through 19.

While a mere one percent (less than 7,400) kids were taking ADHD medication, the study found that those kids performed worse in school and had worse health outcomes.

The study also found that use of ADHD medication was linked to increased rates of exclusions from school, hospital admission (primarily for injury), and a higher risk of a variety of special needs, including: mental, social, educational, and behavioral problems; learning disability; and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The study also found that 84 percent of those were male and came from families of lower social status and poorer health habits.   The medicated kids were found to have also been born earlier, with lower birthweight centiles and lower APGAR scores.

In contrast to current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), current U.K. recommendations suggest that drugs not be used as first-line therapy in kids with mild to moderate ADHD.

U.N. Rejects Teen Contest Winner Due to Autism

When it comes to practicing what it preaches on disability rights, the United Nations is looking more like “Do as I say, not as I do,” not the progressive world body it boasts to be.

A May 2 article in The Oregonian detailed the inexplicable decision by a U.N. body to deny a Portland boy with autism his hard-earned place at an annual U.N. event in New York—apparently because the U.N. program is unwilling and/or unable to accommodate him.

Earlier this school year, Niko Boskovic, 15, a mainstream non-verbal high-schooler who uses a letter-board to communicate with others, won a contest sponsored by a national fraternal organization. 

Contest winners, 300 youths from across the world, gather in New York City to participate in the ten-day annual United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth.

However, the state headquarters of the national organization delayed confirmation of Mr. Boskovic’s place on the trip—because it had not received confirmation from the U.N.

When pressed by the teen’s mother, who was planning to accompany her son throughout the trip as a personal communication aide, the state head informed her that “the U.N. program’s board of directors was reviewing his application, and would make a decision.”

In early March, Janet Bruce, executive director of the U.N. program, wrote Ms. Boskovic: “The Board of Directors has instructed me to tell you this delegate will not be accepted for the tour”—ostensibly because “chaperones were not allowed on the tour.”

Further pressing by the Boskovic family and supporters prompted another brow-raising defense: the program “didn’t have the staff and knowledge to be accountable for someone with a disability.”

Family and supporters have since threatened legal action involving numerous disability-related violations by the U.N.-affiliated body, primarily those involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In December 2006, the U.N.’s General Assembly formally adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

The Convention, which officially establishes international disability-rights standards, has been symbolically signed by over 140 U.N. member nations to date—including the U.S., when American U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice signed it in late 2009.

But the international treaty remains non-binding on U.S. soil until finally approved by a full Senate vote.  A 2012 attempt failed along party lines, and a September 2014 repeat was struck down by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who objected that the treaty could compromise U.S. sovereignty.

While the treaty is broadly supported by many U.S. disability advocates, as well as civil rights, faith, business and veterans’ organizations, many of its protocols are already in place in the U.S. due to the sweeping Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of year here.

“They bring youth from all over the world to gather and share,” said Boskovic family attorney Gordon Magella of the U.N. program.  “What they’re essentially saying is they don’t want input from Niko.”