Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Cure for Down Syndrome

I was approached by a parent in my clinic whose son is suffering from Down Syndrome. He told me that he heard from a friend that there is a new treatment for Down Syndrome using umbilical cord stem cells in Kuala Lumpur. He showed me a business card of a doctor from a company dealing with placenta. According to the father, he has heard of a child with Down Syndrome who has received umbilical cord stem cells, and now has normal intelligence and is attending normal school (Children with Down Syndrome often have subnormal intelligence). This treatment is also successful for children with cerebral palsy.

I told the father that I have not heard of any new treatment in giving umbilical stem cells to Down Syndrome or children with cerebral palsy.
Doing a literature search I managed find two references. One is from a Russian research centre which did a small trial on 125 children with cerebral palsy. However the results were not published in a scientific peer reviewed journal. The second is a brief mention in a US website on stem cell research. Again it did not provide any documentation.

Cord blood stem cell research is still in its infancy and it is unlikely any medical establishment in Kuala Lumpur will be using stem cells therapies without the rest of the world knowing it! This means that whoever is offering the treatment is not a medical professional and is not using medical procedures for his treatment.
My caution is to beware of excessive claims of untested treatment especially in conditions where there is no known treatment. If you are in doubt, consult your own doctor.

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