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Nutritional Implications in Down Syndrome — Original Interpretation
Kent MacLeod, B.Sc. Phm
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Abstract — Every individual requires vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This fact is recognized by dietary recommendations that describe levels of intake necessary to prevent deficiencies. However, there are certain populations, including those with Down syndrome, where these needs are not being met, or due to underlying metabolic disturbances, the recommended levels are not sufficient. The use of nutrients should be considered in DS to maintain health and prevent disease.
Annual screening for zinc and selenium deficiencies is now recommended (Pueshel 1999). Why not simply give these minerals in a supplement?Children with DS display many symptoms characteristic of vitamin A deficiency (Griffiths 1967, Palmer 1978, Pueschel 1990). Dietary surveys demonstrate inadequate vitamin A consumption (Calvert 1976). An 80% decrease in infection rate was reported in children with DS taking a vitamin A supplement compared to controls. After 5 months, there was no difference in the rate of illness between the two groups (Palmer 1978).
- zinc and selenium, at doses found in the literature, are proven safe and effective.
- providing a supplement is non-invasive and more cost-effective than testing.
- there is no scientific agreement on the best way to assess zinc nutritional status; plasma zinc is commonly used but is problematic because of contamination from other sources. (Wood 2000)
- the main therapeutic option for infection in DS (ear, sinus, bronchitis) is antibiotics; they are of limited use (Nyquist 1998)
"The era of nutrient supplements to promote health and reduce illness is here to stay..."(Chandra 1997)
"The function of folate ... is especially important during the early development of the brain, and for the maintenance of normal brain function."(Weir 2000)
In 1998 we showed the first direct evidence of oxidative damage in Down syndrome:
"The evidence that antioxidant vitamins ... may play an important role in promoting health and reducing the risk of several chronic diseases has been accumulating for >20 years"(Blumberg 1995)
"If anything is well established in biochemistry, it is that nutrients interact with one another...Probably, no single agent exists that is completely sufficient; rather, nutrients act optimally in conjunction with numerous other agents."(Block 1995)