BOSTON, April 29, 2005 ( – Amniotic fluid, like umbilical cord blood, has been discovered to contain stem cells that could be used to repair severe birth defects. Dr. Dario Fauza at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, says that infants are difficult to treat surgically and often suffer from surgery related complications such as life threatening infections. He hopes that his research with stem cells from amniotic fluid will make some surgeries unnecessary.

“People always thought that amniotic fluid was just a deposit of dying cells … but that’s not true. They are very vibrant cells,” Fauza said.

Dr. Fauza admits that there are some risks involved in removing amniotic fluid from the womb. But the amount needed for stem cell collection is very small and the cells can then be used to grow, for instance, cartilage tissue that might be used to repair damaged trachea. Some children born with malformed tracheas do not survive surgical attempts to take cartilage tissue from other parts of their bodies. Cartilage grown from stem cells would also be proof against immune system rejection.

Dr. Fauza also works with fetal tissue that is taken in a minimally invasive procedure from a pre-born child with a birth defect like spina bifida. The cells are cultivated and new tissue can be grown ready for surgery immediately after birth.


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