Chemical Brain Drain (Lecture)

Brain development can be damaged by mercury and other environmental chemicals.

This is a lecture by Professor Philippe Grandjean who works at the University of Southern Denmark and Harvard School of Public Health in the United States. He tells in the presentation that there are 201 environmental chemicals currently identified as harmful for the brain. These toxic substances can cause the so-called brain drain, which means that the population’s skills decrease with more mental health problems and fewer highly intelligent people.

Grandjean also shows the magnetic resonance scanning of the brain when children make different finger movements. In children with high mercury levels are both right and left brain active instead of just one in children with low mercury load. This shows that the nerve impulses in mercury affected brains are not functioning optimally.

Antibiotics During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Epilepsy in Children

foodconsumer.org – Prenatal antibiotics linked to high risk of epilepsyMonday Oct 22, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) — A new study in Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology suggests that taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy increases risk of epilepsy in children. J. E. Miller of School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA and colleagues conducted the study and found taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy was associated with 10 to 20 percent increased risk of epilepsy in children.

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Reference
Miller JE, Pedersen LH, Sun Y, Olsen J. Maternal Use of Cystitis Medication and Childhood Epilepsy in a Danish Population-based Cohort. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol 2012; 26 (6): 589-95.

 

Zinc Saves Kids

450,000 children are at risk of dying every year due to the impact of zinc deficiency on diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. A few extra milligrams of zinc every day can make a huge difference. Zinc-containing supplements are a quick and easy, effective and inexpensive remedy.

Video from IZA – International Zinc Association (2011)

 

Pneumonia Wonder Drug: Zinc Saves Lives

Respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, are the most common cause of death in children under the age of five. In a study looking at children given standard antibiotic therapy, new research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine shows how zinc supplements drastically improved children’s chances of surviving the infection. The increase in survival due to zinc (on top of antibiotics) was even greater for HIV infected children.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 350 children, aged from six months to five years old, were treated with standard antibiotic therapy at Mulago Hospital. Half the children were given zinc and the other half a placebo.

The researchers from Makerere University found that while there was no difference between zinc and placebo in the time it took to recover from the infection (measured by time it took to return to a normal temperature, reparatory rate and oxygen saturation) the risk of death between the groups was very different. 4% of the children taking zinc died compared to 12% of the children without zinc. This means that an extra eight out of 100 children could have been saved by taking zinc. Among the HIV infected children this rose to 26 out of every 100.

Prof James Tumwine explained, “Zinc is known to bolster the immune system and zinc deficiency is rife all over the developed, and developing, world. In Uganda, where this study was performed, zinc deficiency in some areas can be as high as 70%. We would only need to give 13 of these children with pneumonia zinc on top of their antibiotics to save one life. This equates to about 4 USD – a small price to pay.”

 

Reference

Srinivasan MG, Ndeezi G, Mboijana CK, Kiguli S, Bimenya GS, Nankabirwa V, Tumwine JK. Zinc adjunct therapy reduces case fatality in severe childhood pneumonia: a randomized double blind placebo-controlled trial. BMC Med 2012; 10: 14.

 

Dead Wrong: How Psychiatric Drugs Can Kill Your Child

From the makers of the award-winning documentaries Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging and The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane? comes a searing new documentary (2010), exposing how devastating—and deadly—psychiatric drugs can be for children and families.

Behind the grim statistics of deaths, suicides, birth defects and serious adverse reactions is the human face of this global drugging epidemic—the personal stories of loss and courage of those who paid the real price.

Psychiatrists claim their drugs are safe for children?

Once you hear what eight brave mothers, their families, health experts, drug counselors and doctors have to say instead, you will come away convinced of one thing… Psychiatrists are DEAD WRONG.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked With Airway Changes In Children With Severe Asthma

Children with severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) may have poorer lung function and worse symptoms compared to children with moderate asthma, due to lower levels of vitamin D in their blood, according to researchers in London. Lower levels of vitamin D may cause structural changes in the airway muscles of children with STRA, making breathing more difficult. The study provides important new evidence for possible treatments for the condition.

The findings were published online ahead of the print edition of the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“This study clearly demonstrates that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poorer lung function, increased use of medication, worse symptoms and an increase in the mass of airway smooth muscle in children with STRA,” said Atul Gupta, MRCPCH, M.D., a researcher from Royal Brompton Hospital and the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) at Imperial College and King’s College London. “It is therefore plausible that the link between airway smooth muscle mass and lung function in severe asthma may be partly explained by low levels of vitamin D.”

While most children with asthma can be successfully treated with low doses of corticosteroids, about 5 to 10 percent of asthmatic children do not respond to standard treatment. These children have severe therapy-resistant asthma, or STRA, experience more asthma episodes and asthma-related illnesses, and require more healthcare services, than their treatment-receptive peers.

Although previous studies of children with asthma have linked increases in airway smooth muscle mass with poorer lung function and in vitro studies have established a connection between levels of vitamin D and the proliferation of airway smooth muscle, this is the first study to evaluate the relationship between vitamin D and the pathophysiology of children with STRA.

“Little is known about vitamin D status and its effect on asthma pathophysiology in these patients,” Dr. Gupta noted. “For our study, we hypothesized that children with STRA would have lower levels of vitamin D than moderate asthmatics, and that lower levels of vitamin D would be associated with worse lung function and changes in the airway muscle tissue.”

The researchers enrolled 86 children in the study, including 36 children with STRA, 26 with moderate asthma and 24 non-asthmatic controls, and measured the relationships between vitamin D levels and lung function, medication usage and symptom exacerbations.The researchers also examined tissue samples from the airways of the STRA group to evaluate structural changes in the airway’s smooth muscle.

At the conclusion of the study the researchers found children with STRA had significantly lower levels of vitamin D, as well as greater numbers of exacerbations, increased use of asthma medications and poorer lung function compared to children with moderate asthma and non-asthmatic children. Airway muscle tissue mass was also increased in the STRA group.

“The results of this study suggest that lower levels of vitamin D in children with STRA contribute to an increase in airway smooth muscle mass, which could make breathing more difficult and cause a worsening of asthma symptoms,” Dr. Gupta said.

The findings suggest new treatment strategies for children suffering from difficult-to-treat asthma, he added.

“Our results suggest that detecting vitamin D deficiency in children with STRA, and then treating that deficiency, may help prevent or reduce the structural changes that occur in the airway smooth muscle, which in turn may help reduce asthma-related symptoms and improve overall lung function,” Dr. Gupta said.

Before any widespread treatment recommendations can be made, however, larger studies will

“The determination of the exact mechanism between low vitamin D and airway changes that occur in STRA will require intervention studies,” Dr. Gupta said. “Hopefully, the results of this and future studies will help determine a new course of therapy that will be effective in treating these children.”

 

Reference

Gupta A, Sjoukes A, Richards D, Banya W, Hawrylowicz C, Bush A, Saglani S. Relationship Between Serum Vitamin D, Disease Severity and Airway Remodeling in Children with Asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011 Sep 15. [Epub ahead of print]

 

Children With Autism And Gastrointestinal Symptoms Have Altered Digestive Genes

These changes may also affect the mix of bacteria present in the digestive tract

Researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and at the Harvard Medical School report that children with autism and gastrointestinal disturbances have altered expression of genes involved in digestion. These variations may contribute to changes in the types of bacteria in their intestines. Full study findings are reported online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Autism, which is defined by impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, affects approximately 1% of the population. Many children with autism have gastrointestinal problems that can complicate clinical management and contribute to behavioral disturbances. In some children, special diets and antibiotics have been associated with improvements in social, cognitive and gastrointestinal function.

The investigators found that children diagnosed with autism and gastrointestinal disturbances have abnormalities in levels of genes for enzymes that break down sugars and for molecules that transport them from the lumen of the intestine into the blood. These variations were also associated with changes in the bacterial composition of the intestine.

The researchers examined biopsies from 22 patients, 15 diagnosed with autism and seven typically developing children. They used real-time PCR to measure gene expression and genetic sequencing techniques to characterize the bacteria present in the intestines of each child.

Brent Williams, PhD, research scientist at CII and first author of the study, noted that, “whereas others have looked at bacterial composition of feces, our group was the first to characterize mucosal communities and to link findings to expression of genes important in carbohydrate metabolism and transport.”

“The findings are consistent with other research suggesting that autism may be a system-wide disorder, and provide insight into why changes in diet or the use of antibiotics may help alleviate symptoms in some children,” added Mady Hornig, MD, Director of Translational Research at the Center for Infection and Immunity.

“Although caution in interpretation is indicated because the sample size is small, our findings nonetheless provide a framework for developing and testing new hypotheses concerning the role of malabsorption and microflora in autism and related disorders,” said Ian Lipkin, MD, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity.

 

Reference

Williams BL, Hornig M, Buie T, Bauman ML, Cho Paik M, et al. (2011) Impaired Carbohydrate Digestion and Transport and Mucosal Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24585. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024585

 

Mother’s Diet Influences Baby’s Allergies — New Research

A possible link between what a mother eats during pregnancy and the risk of her child developing allergies has been identified in new research published in this month’s The Journal of Physiology.

The research found that if a mother’s diet contains a certain group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – such as those found in fish, walnut oil or flaxseed – the baby’s gut develops differently. The PUFAs are thought to improve how gut immune cells respond to bacteria and foreign substances, making the baby less likely to suffer from allergies.

Until now, several clinical trials have shown that fish and walnut oil supplementation in pregnant women reduces the risk of allergy in their children, but the mechanism was unknown.

“There is intense research interest in maternal diet during pregnancy. In the western diet, the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that we have shown to help gut function are actually disappearing – our dietary intake of fish and nut oils is being replaced by corn oils which contain a different kind of fatty acid”. Said Dr Gaëlle Boudry, of the INRA research institute in Rennes, France.

“Our study identifies that a certain group of polyunsaturated fatty acids – known as n-3PUFAs – causes a change in how a baby’s gut develops, which in turn might change how the gut immune system develops. These changes are likely to reduce the risk of developing allergies in later life.”

The team found that supplementing a mother’s diet with n-3PUFA caused the new-born’s gut to become more permeable. A more permeable gut enables bacteria and new substances to pass through the lining of the gut into the bloodstream more easily. These new substances then trigger the baby’s immune response and the production of antibodies.

“The end result is that the baby’s immune system may develop and mature faster – leading to better immune function and less likelihood of suffering allergies,” added Dr Boudry.

This research adds to previous studies which have shown that an intake of n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy increases gestational length and maturation of the central nervous system of a baby and that their performance on mental tasks also seemed to be improved in childhood.

“Other studies have found that a diet containing fish or walnut oil during pregnancy may make your baby smarter – our research adds to this, suggesting such supplements also accelerate the development of a healthy immune system to ward off food allergies.”

In terms of next steps, the team’s findings were based on piglets so research will continue to see if they translate to humans. The porcine intestine is an excellent model of the human gut however, so they are hopeful that the findings can be extrapolated. The team also plans to investigate whether the apparent gut function-boosting effects of n-3PUFA that they have identified in new-borns extends into later life.

 

Reference

De Quelen F, Chevalier J, Rolli-Derkinderen M, Mourot J, Neunlist M, Boudry G. n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the maternal diet modify the postnatal development of nervous regulation of intestinal permeability in piglets J Physiol 2011; 589 (17): 4341-4352.

 

Generation RX

For decades, scores of doctors, government officials, journalists, and others have extolled the benefits of psychiatric medicines for children. Generation RX  (2008) presents “the rest of the story” and unveils how this era of unprecedented change in Western culture really occurred — and what price has been paid by our society.

International award-winning filmmaker Kevin P. Miller (Let Truth Be The Bias, The Promised Land) “delivers a jaw-dropping emotional ride,” and “weaves a terrifying tale of criminal conspiracy, the mass abandonment of medical ethics, and the routine betrayal of an entire generation.” By employing the expertise of internationally respected professionals from the fields of medicine, ethics, journalism, and academia, Generation RX investigates collusion between drug companies and their regulatory watchdogs at the FDA and focuses on the powerful stories of real families who followed the advice of their doctors — and faced devastating consequences for doing so.

Ultimately, Generation RX may help parents decide whether the perceived benefits of these medications outweigh the serious risks to children.  “Generation Rx is a film that every parent should see,” says Jason Buchanan of ALL MOVIE GUIDE.

Watch the full documentary now:

 

Interview with the author of Generation RX


Linked to Archive.org

 

Vitamin A Supplements For Children Could Save 600,000 Lives A Year

Children in low and middle income countries should be given vitamin A supplements to prevent death and illness, concludes a study published on bmj.com.

The researchers argue that the effectiveness of vitamin A supplementation is now so well-established that further trials would be unethical, and they urge policymakers to provide supplements for all children at risk of deficiency.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that must be obtained through diet. Vitamin A deficiency in children increases vulnerability to infections like diarrhoea and measles and may also lead to blindness. Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that 190 million children under the age of 5 may be vitamin A deficient. But, despite widespread efforts, vitamin A programmes do not reach all children who could benefit.

So a team of researchers based in the UK and Pakistan analysed the results of 43 trials of vitamin A supplementation involving over 200,000 children aged 6 months to 5 years. Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

They found vitamin A supplements reduced child mortality by 24% in low and middle income countries. It may also reduce mortality and disability by preventing measles, diarrhoea and vision problems, including night blindness.

The authors say that, if the risk of death for 190 million vitamin A deficient children were reduced by 24%, over 600,000 lives would be saved each year and 20 million disability-adjusted life years (a measure of quantity and quality of life) would be gained.

Based on these results, the authors strongly recommend supplementation for children under 5 in areas at risk of vitamin A deficiency. They conclude: “The evidence for vitamin A is compelling and clear. Further trials comparing vitamin A with placebo would be unethical.”

This view is supported in an accompanying editorial by two experts at Harvard School of Public Health, who say “effort should now focus on finding ways to sustain this important child survival initiative and fine tune it to maximise the number of lives saved.”

 

Reference

Mayo-Wilson E, Imdad A, Herzer K, Yakoob MY, Bhutta ZA. Vitamin A supplements for preventing mortality, illness, and blindness in children aged under 5: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2011; 343: d5094.

Thorne-Lyman A, Fawzi WW. Improving child survival through vitamin A supplementation. BMJ 2011; 343: d5294.

 

Manganese In Drinking Water: Study Suggests Adverse Effects On Children’s Intellectual Abilities

A team of researchers recently completed a study showing that children exposed to high concentrations of manganese in drinking water performed worse on tests of intellectual functioning than children with lower exposures.

A team of researchers led by Maryse Bouchard, adjunct professor at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, Health, Environment and Society (CINBIOSE) of the Université du Québec à Montréal and a researcher at Sainte-Justine University Hospital, and Donna Mergler, professor emerita in the Department of Biological Sciences and a member of CINBIOSE, recently completed a study showing that children exposed to high concentrations of manganese in drinking water performed worse on tests of intellectual functioning than children with lower exposures. Their results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, in an article entitled “Intellectual Impairment in School-Age Children Exposed to Manganese from Drinking Water”.

Manganese: toxic in the workplace but harmless in water?
The neurotoxic effects of manganese exposure in the workplace are well known. This metal is naturally occurring in soil and in certain conditions is present in groundwater. In several regions of Quebec and Canada and in other parts of the world, the groundwater contains naturally high levels of manganese. Does it pose a danger? What effect might it have on children’s health? This is the first study to focus on the potential risks of exposure to manganese in drinking water in North America.

The study, carried out by researchers at the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Université de Montréal and the École Polytechnique de Montréal, examined 362 Quebec children, between the ages of 6 and 13, living in homes supplied by with groundwater (individual or public wells). For each child, the researchers measured the concentration of manganese in tap water from their home, as well as iron, copper, lead, zinc, arsenic, magnesium and calcium. The amount of manganese from both tap water and food was estimated from a questionnaire. Finally, each child was assessed with a battery of tests assessing cognition, motor skills, and behaviour.

Lead author Maryse Bouchard explains, “We found significant deficits in the intelligence quotient (IQ) of children exposed to higher concentration of manganese in drinking water. Yet, manganese concentrations were well below current guidelines.” The average IQ of children whose tap water was in the upper 20% of manganese concentration was 6 points below children whose water contained little or no manganese. The analyses of the association between manganese in tap water and children’s IQ took into account various factors such as family income, maternal intelligence, maternal education, and the presence of other metals in the water. For co-author Donna Mergler, “This is a very marked effect; few environmental contaminants have shown such a strong correlation with intellectual ability.” The authors state that the amount of manganese present in food showed no relationship to the children’s IQ.

What next?
So what can be done about it? Some of the municipalities where the study was conducted have already installed a filtration system that removes manganese from the water. According to one of the other co-authors of the study, Benoit Barbeau, NSERC Industrial Chair in Drinking Water at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, “A viable alternative solution is home use of filtering pitchers that contain a mixture of resins and activated carbon. Such devices can reduce the concentration of manganese by 60% to100% depending on filter use and the characteristics of the water.”

In Quebec, where the study was conducted, manganese is not on the list of inorganic substances in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks Regulation respecting the quality of drinking water. “Because of the common occurrence of this metal in drinking water and the observed effects at low concentrations, we believe that national and international guidelines for safe manganese in water should be revisited.” the authors conclude.

 

Reference

Bouchard MF, Sauvé S, Barbeau B, Legrand M, Brodeur M-È, Bouffard T, et al. 2010. Intellectual Impairment in School-Age Children Exposed to Manganese from Drinking Water. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002321.