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Case Studies

Study Shows Benefits of Nutritional Supplementation in Down Syndrome

A new study of children with Down syndrome shows significant improvement in cognitive skills and behavior after nutritional supplementation with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Forty children with Down syndrome, along with an equal number of age- and sex- matched controls, were supplemented for 6 months with a specially formulated nutritional supplement. According to clinical and psychological assessments, neuronal stress in DS children was addressed encouragingly by the nutritional supplementation. The study suggests the significance and importance of early intervention with nutritional supplementation in DS children to ameliorate the severity of this condition.

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Abstract no.: 775

Evaluation of trace elements and some enzymes in Egyptian children with Down syndrome
N.A. Meguid, H.H.Afifi & N. Kholosy

The present study investigated the activity of Cu Zn superoxide dismutase in red blood cells and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) in whole blood using spectrophotometric methods. The plasma levels of the copper and zinc cofactors, and whole blood selenium were evaluated using a population of 15 patients with Down Syndrome (DS) with complete trisomy 21 (group 1), translocations (group 2) and mosaicism (group 3), and 15 controls matched for age and sex.

The purpose of this work was to study the gene dosage effect of SOD and its effect on glutathione peroxidase enzyme, and to find out its correlation with developmental fields. The results show that SOD and GPx activities were increased in the population with complete trisomy 21 and translocations, while in cases with mosaicism, the enzyme activities were within normal limits. Plasma copper concentrations were significantly decreased in the three groups with DS.

Although the present results require very subtle interpretation, these findings are powerful tools for identifying nutritional status and guiding antioxidant intervention.

Abstract no.: 776

Early intervention in down syndrome: The effect of antioxydants
N.A. Meguid & S. Ismail

The present study investigated the role of antioxidant nutritional support in conjunction with a training Portage programme designed to improve the capabilities of patients with Down Syndrome (DS).

The study included 60 children with DS aged between 2 and 45 months. Twenty cases were included in an early intervention portage project and supported with antioxidants. Another 20 cases only attended the early intervention programme. The remaining group of 20 children with DS did not attend at all. The portage early intervention programme was used to evaluate the development of various fields of activity.

The present authors organized a 1 year follow-up study of the first and second stages of evaluation. Initial growth parameters and development assessment were done, and then again at 6 month intervals. Complete blood analysis, T3, T4 and TSH were carried out every 6 months. Parents were asked to stop any additional vitamins, and to keep illness logs and follow-up the incidence of upper respiratory, ear and GIT infections.

The most striking finding was the marked improvement in the health and growth of the group of children with DS attending the intervention programme in conjunction with antioxidant treatments. There was a significant decrease in the incidence of all infections, and upper respiratory and ear infections in particular. The authors also noticed a significant improvement in cognitive and gross motor development in comparison to the other groups.

The therapeutic effect of antioxidant nutritional intervention on the quality of life of people with DS.
Case Study Completed on Nutrivene

M.J. Gelb, M.D., a pediatrician from Germany, has conducted a study of Nutrivene on patients with Down syndrome. Results of the study were published in the German pediatric publication, Padiatriche Praxis, entitled "Targeted Nutritional Intervention (TNI) for Children with Down Syndrome".

Dr. Gelb's study consisted of 38 patients (ages 6 months to 15 years of age) on Nutrivene compared with a group of 38 patients (ages 5 months to 17.2 years of age) not supplemented with Nutrivene.

Dr. Gelb reported that the TNI supplemented children had a reduced number of infections, increased growth, and a normalization of various laboratory parameters (i.e. Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, etc.). Also noted by parents and therapists were improvements in behavior, cooperation, and development. Click here for more information on this study.

Padiat. Praxis. 59: 703-708 (2001)

Physicians Recognize the Importance of Antioxidants in the Long Term Management of Down Syndrome A recent review published by Drs. Gert Lubec and Ephrem Engidawork of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Vienna (Journal of Neurology, 2002, Vol 249: 1347-1356) eloquently outlines the scientific rationale for the need for increased antioxidant supplementation in the diets of persons with Down syndrome.

These scientists based their argument on two well-documented facts. First, because of the extra copy of chromosome 21, persons with Down syndrome produce more free radicals in their body. Scientists call free radicals, reactive oxygen species or ROS. Because ROS are highly reactive with other chemicals (one might even broadly compare their action to everyday cleaning agents like bleach), they can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA in the body and decrease the body’s ability to function properly. This would include body processes like cognition (the ability to learn), immunity and even muscle tone.

Secondly, Lubec and Ephrem explain that ROS adversely affects health by the under or over production of proteins, called transcription factors or TFs, that regulate expression of our body’s blueprint for living, DNA. For instance they state, “ROS modulate TFs and TFs modulate ROS generation; the consequence of any imbalance may be neuronal death and neurodegeneration in DS”. The authors go on to explain that many TFs that are involved in genetically programmed cell death (apoptosis) are found in elevated levels in the brains of persons with DS. They point out that “Apoptosis of neurons and glial cells (brain cells-editor) may be responsible for the multitude for the multitude of pathological findings in the fetus and later in life when Alzheimer’s disease like neuropathological findings occurs from the fourth decade. Enhanced apoptosis in DS brain, can be caused by TFs and ROS”.

Importantly Lubec and Ephrem note, “Although we discussed the brain exclusively, we are aware that these pathogenetic principles of TF and ROS abnormalities may be extrapolated to other organ systems, such as the heart and dysmorphic (abnormality of shape-editor) features”.

They conclude by stating; “Therapeutic modalities that target these factors (ROS and TGs-editor) including antioxidants and caspase inhibitors might have some benefit in alleviating the symptoms of DS”.

Finally, these scientists acknowledge in their paper the abundance of data that support their conclusions as well as an admonition to the scientific community about the lack of research into the specific causes of abnormal changes in body functions in persons with Down syndrome:

“We could add significant material from the literature supporting the involvement of TFs and ROS but for the readability and because the length of this review (82 scientific papers are cited in their paper-editor) we have to limit evidence and apologize to many important contributors to the subject for not having them cited. We also do not ignore many other facts and findings that may well contribute to the pathogenesis of DS.”

“……there is still therapeutic nihilism (“skepticism as to the therapeutic value of a drug or method” – Webster’s Third New International Dictionary-editor) in DS. More than a century after the description of DS and with a high incidence in all populations, specific brain research is still far from adequate.”

All quotes excerpted from: Lubec, G. and E. Engidawork. 2002. The brain in Down syndrome (Trisomy 21). Journal of Neurology, Vol. 249: 1347-1356 and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language: Unabridged, 1993, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, MA.

Alzheimer's Risk Reduced by Vitamins

A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health indicates that taking high daily doses of Vitamins C and E may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) by at least 64%. The five-year study, published in the January 2004 issue of the Archives of Neurology, included 4,740 participants aged 65 years and older.

"Our findings suggest that Vitamins E and C may offer protection against Alzheimer's Disease when taken together in the higher doses from individual supplements" according to study author Dr. Peter Zandi. The vitamins' antioxidant properties may reduce free radicals which damage cells, leading to AD.

The Vitamin E supplements taken by the study participants contained up to 1,000 IUs and the Vitamin C supplements contained 500 to 1,000 mcgs. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin E is 22 IUs and for Vitamin C it is 75 to 90 mcgs. Taking a lower dosage multivitamin or using just one of the vitamins alone did not have the same protective effect. A Vitamin E supplement together with a multivitamin may provide some benefit. According to the report, high-dose vitamin supplements are rarely toxic and could have wide-ranging health benefits.

Alzheimer's is a disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior. Approximately 5 million Americans suffer from AD.

This study has implications in Down syndrome as well; estimates vary but approximately 25% or more of individuals with Down syndrome over age 35 have clinical signs and symptoms of AD. Overall, the incidence of AD in Down syndrome is estimated to be 3 to 5 times greater than in the general population.

Lower Zinc Levels in Children with Down Syndrome

Research has established that zinc metabolism is altered in Down syndrome. This study compared a group of children with Down syndrome with a control group both with children ages 4 to 11 years. Zinc concentrations were significantly lower in plasma of children with Down syndrome.

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