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Can Stem Cells Treat Autism and Apraxia?

Stem cell therapy for autism and apraxia has been explored for years, with clinical trials frequently making the news and the rounds of online parenting discussion forums. 

Recent studies estimate approximately 1% of the world population is living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Speech therapists at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital estimate as many as one to 10 children out of every 1,000 kids may have childhood Apraxia.

Many parents are seeking further education about the potential treatments, with stem cell therapy for autism and apraxia increasingly viewed as a promising opportunity.

Does my child have Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how children communicate, behave, and interact with others. Although ASD can be diagnosed at any age, it generally appears and is diagnosed in the first two to three years of life. 

According to Autism Speaks, the broad range of conditions that make up ASD are characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. 

Early signs of autism:

  • Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling, or social skills
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Prefers to be or play alone
  • Difficulty understanding the feeling of others
  • Delayed language development
  • Frequent repetition of words or short phrases
  • Repetitive behaviors (spinning, rocking, etc)
  • Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning the experiences and challenges of a person with autism can vary greatly; in the words of Autism Speaks, “there is no one type of autism, but many.” 

Visit CDC.gov for a complete list of signs and symptoms of ASD.

An informative image illustrating the primary indicators of autism for timely recognition and intervention.

Does my child have Apraxia?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. Children with apraxia know what they want to say, but their brains have difficulty coordinating the muscle movements of the lips, jaw and tongue necessary to say those words. 

CAS is often associated with a delay in speech, limited number of spoken, understandable words, and the ability to only form a few consonant or vowel sounds.

Early signs of childhood apraxia of speech:

  • Can understand language significantly better than expressing it
  • Overall delayed language development
  • Difficulty putting sounds and syllables together in the correct order
  • Inconsistent errors in consonants and vowels when repeating sounds
  • Long pauses between sounds
  • Problems with “prosody,” the varying rhythms and tones that help express the emotional content of speech

Visit the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for a complete list of signs and symptoms of CAS.

A young child joyfully holds up a toy airplane.

Clinical Trials to Treat Autism and Apraxia

It is important to understand that clinical trials investigating autism or apraxia and stem cells are not looking for a “cure.” These clinical trials are designed as a treatment or intervention. The goal is to relieve or lessen impacts of autism and apraxia to a degree that conventional behavioral methods of treatment cannot achieve. 

The most notable clinical trials are occurring at Duke University, under the guidance of Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, an internationally renowned expert in pediatric hematology and oncology, pediatric blood and marrow transplantation, cord blood banking and transplantation, and regenerative medicine.

The clinical trials under Dr. Kurtzberg’s direction at Duke have focused on cord blood and tissue transplants for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and childhood apraxia. 

Today, there are dozens of clinical trials across the globe studying stem cells and autism and apraxia. Parent’s Guide to Cord Blood offers a convenient, up-to-date tool to find active and recruiting trails studying numerous medical conditions.

Americord Clients Participating in Clinical Trials to Treat Autism and Apraxia

As of March 2022, Americord has released five clients’ samples for clinical trials with Duke University. Each of these families have seen improvement in their child’s conditions. 

One of the most notable success stories was an Americord family, who saw noticeable speech improvements within 3 weeks of their daughter’s stem cell transplant treating apraxia. 

In another Americord success story, a child diagnosed with autism was recently treated in a Duke clinical trial. The parents say that the results were nearly instantaneous. “Her conversation skills have significantly improved. She speaks more clearly and thoroughly. Before it was very direct and brief, maybe 3 word sentences. Now, you wouldn’t know she was really delayed.” 

"Going from teachers telling us she wasn’t going to speak and stop wasting our time, to her not being eligible for outpatient speech, was a pretty significant difference."

The Takeaway for Families

It is important to understand that many of these promising developments are still in the trial phase, and that stem cell treatment for autism and apraxia is not yet a common practice. However, safe trials with promising results are the foundation for all procedures and treatments that eventually become a standard of care. 

And these developments are one of the reasons more and more parents are choosing to bank their newborn’s cord blood. Banking stem cells provides access to the future of regenerative medicine at a time when the full scope of incredible discoveries is not yet known. 

Americord is committed to helping people live healthier, longer lives. We will be sure to update you on new stem cell therapies for autism and apraxia as they are announced.


The views, statements, and pricing expressed are deemed reliable as of the published date. Articles may not reflect current pricing, offerings, or recent innovations.