The “Baby Stem Cell” Fraud


At the most recent 5th Annual Conference of the Interventional Orthopedics Foundation, several hours were devoted to the science (or lack there-of) regarding the use of packaged “Baby Stem Cell” products. These are products sold as “amnion”, “umbilical”, or “placental” tissue, cord blood, or amniotic fluid. There is an unscientific myth that these products contain “Baby Stem Cells” and thus can be used to repair basically any disease that anyone has. Many unscrupulous and greedy practitioners state that these products are FDA-approved for these purposes and that they can miraculously heal their patients, for $5000-$10000 or more for a single intravenous (IV) injection.

These practitioners are in violation of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whose position is that these products have never been approved for these uses, and also the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who considers the claims that these products contain “Baby Stem Cells” to be fraudulent.

These practitioners also have not read the scientific papers behind these products apparently. There are no viable, living “Baby Stem Cells” in any of these products, based on a growing number of independent laboratory tests. In fact, any living tissue in these products would directly violate the FDA regulations for sterility and processing, regulations that are designed for the safety of patients.

At best, these products contain a moderate number of growth factors, which may be helpful for tissue-stimulated repair. There is typically about 1 cc of fluid in these products, and the growth factor content is about 1⁄2 of what you obtain with 1cc of Platelet-Rich Plasma. In the CHARM laboratory, we usually are able to concentrate about 20cc or more of PRP from a single blood draw directly from the patient. The quantity of growth factors makes a real difference, and CHARM can produce about 30-40x the number of growth factors in our processes, and treat the patient for a fraction of the cost, with better results.

If that weren’t enough reason to avoid these expensive and relatively poor-value “Baby Stem Cell” products, there have been a series of severe, life-threatening bacterial and viral infections in the US because of these packaged products, which are derived from other unsuspecting patients under uncontrolled circumstances.

For more information, read the recent Texas Monthly Forbes articles on these unproven and potentially dangerous “Baby Stem Cell” products, or better yet, listen to the podcast, “Bad Batch” by journalist Laura Beil.

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