Sunday, January 27, 2008
Down Syndrome and Vitamins
Many conditions such as celiac, ADD, autism and allergies can be treated through nutrition and diet and I was wondering if there was research on Down Syndrome benefiting from nutritional intervention. Down Syndrome children have a genetic disorder that I was especially curious about, because a close friend has a daughter born with Down Syndrome. Also, celiac disease is more common in children with DS. In addition, my daughter's low muscle tone, growth issues, and low zinc levels all resolved on a gluten free diet. These problems are also problems commonly seen in children with DS. Obviously, a serious genetic problem is not going to be cured through diet and vitamins. A child with DS will always have to navigate life with an extra chromosome. Still the range of the severity of presentation of this disorder suggests that there are some ways to improve the lives of those born with DS.
A website called Nutritional Healing by a nutritionist in Australia has compiled research on the history of zinc supplementation in children with Down Syndrome. There were 11 studies done on zinc and Down Syndrome. All were done outside the United States in Italy, Canada and Slovakia. In other countries, where the medical field is not so driven by the pharmaceutical industry, doctors do research on vitamins as possible treatment for genetic disorders. Many of these results were eventually published in American Journals. The Nutritional Healing website with links to published research provides an overview and history of the use of vitamins and nutritional supplementation in children born with Down Syndrome.
Books that have been written on the subject of nutrition, vitamins and Down Syndrome are: The Down Syndrome Nutrition Handbook by Joan Guthrie Medlen and Down Syndrome and Vitamin Therapy by Kent MacLeod.
About Nutritional Intervention
Nutritional supplementation can seem overwhelming to parents when they begin. They wisely don't want to give their children unnecessary vitamins. But since doctors are given minimal information on nutrition in medical school, parents are left to their own devices when it comes to nutritional supplementation. Integrative doctors who consider the importance of nutrition and diet on health seem to be the best bet for parents to consult with. But doctors who prescribe supplements often have a conflict of interest when it comes to supplementation if they are making money from the supplements. So it is critical to find a doctor with an awareness of your child's particular issue who has some understanding of the benefits of nutrition and vitamin therapy. Word of mouth--other parents--and books have helped us in our search for doctors and nutritional help for our family.