Risks of cerebral palsy stem cell treatment

An expert panel of scientists and clinicians is warning people against going overseas for costly and unproven stem cell treatment for cerebral palsy.

A forum held in Sydney last night heard from leading researchers in the field and a parent who sought treatment in the United States for his young son.

The Cerebral Palsy Alliance estimates as many as 500 Australians have sought stem cell therapies overseas.

But the alliance last night urged families to hold out for the possibility that Australia will undertake its own clinical trials of the treatment as early as this year.

"We're very worried about families travelling overseas for treatment," Associate Professor Iona Novak, from the alliance, said.

"A lot of these stem cell tourism companies don't even describe what type of cells they're giving, so first we don't even know if they're human cells... so, of course, it is a very risky procedure.

"There has been a couple of cases internationally of children actually dying from these treatments."

The alliance estimates a child in Australia is born with cerebral palsy every 15 hours, making it the most common disability in childhood.

The condition is caused by damage to the child's brain during pregnancy, birth or soon after.

It often leads to seizures, blindness, hearing loss and slower developmental growth.

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Risks of cerebral palsy stem cell treatment

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