04 January 2011
By Prasad Kulkarni
"The centre is planning to start stem cell therapy for high risk pregnancies like those having severe pre–eclampsia. It is one of the main causes of maternal and foetal deaths during pregnancy. The therapy will be introduced in collaboration with the department of transfusion medicine, AFMC," said Brig S K Kathpalia, AFMC.
According to Lt Col Yoginder Singh, head of the feotal medicine centre, stem cells of the mother will be used to deal with the medical problems faced by the baby inside her womb. "The therapy will help giving birth to babies, who otherwise would have got aborted due to medical complications. Babies suffering from thalassemia, anaemia, etc., can be treated with this therapy. It is no way harmful to the mother," Singh said.
"We are completing the legal formalities required for stem cell transplant. The formalities are comparatively less, as we are using the cell for the same person. We will introduce the therapy in a month’s time," Singh added.
The feotal medicine centre at the AFMC has been carrying out various programmes to deal with critical deliveries. Apart from intra–uterine transfusions, the centre is also performing procedures like amniocentesis, chorionic villous sampling, foetal reduction in high order pregnancies, cordocentesis and screening for inborn error of metabolism.
"The AFMC has helped a large number of patients with high risk pregnancy to have safe deliveries," said Lt Gen D P Vats, director and commandant, AFMC. "The results achieved are comparable to some of the best centres in the world," he added.
Foetal therapy is a relatively new branch of obstetrics. Interventions including transfusion of blood to babies while they are still inside the mother’s womb (intra–uterine transfusion) are being provided to families of armed forces personnel as well as civilians. "This care is provided free of cost by the AFMC and people should come forward to take benefit of this facilities," said Lt Col Yoginder Singh, head of the feotal medicine centre. "Approaching at the right time is important to deal with critical pregnancies. Before taking the decision to abort a baby, the mother should refer to this centre."