Friday, July 27, 2012

Study finds mismatch between kids and vitamins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Vitamin supplements are meant to fill-in where diet may be lacking, but a new study finds that U.S. kids may not be getting some of the most needed nutrients from their vitamin pills and the kids taking vitamins may not be the ones who need them the most.

Looking at the diets and supplement use of more than 7,000 kids, researchers found that between the ages of nine and 18 many had low levels of certain vitamins and minerals, and few took supplements, while younger kids had adequate levels of most nutrients and were possibly getting too much of some vitamins and minerals.

Most children under eight, for instance, got the nutrition they needed from the food they ate, regardless of whether or not they took supplements, the study found.

Even with the use of supplements, however, more than a third of children failed to get sufficient calcium and vitamin D. And users sometimes overloaded on essential nutrients such as iron and vitamin A. Zinc and folate were consumed to excess across all age groups.

"We don't know if these excessive amounts cause any harm," said Regan Bailey, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who led the study. But, Bailey and her coauthors note in The Journal of Pediatrics, their findings suggest that makers of children's vitamins should consider reformulating their products to better match kids' needs and modern diets.

Bailey's team used dietary surveys to assess mineral and vitamin intake among children between the ages of two and 18 who took part in a major government health survey between 2003 and 2006. About 40 percent of children between ages two and eight take a supplement, the study found. Supplement usage was lower among older kids - 29 percent of kids between nine and 13 years old took them and 26 percent of teenagers did.

White children were more likely than their black or Hispanic counterparts to take a supplement, commonly a multivitamin/mineral. Overall, supplement users and nonusers got roughly similar levels of 15 different vitamins and minerals from food sources alone. But users were also more likely to get recommended doses of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A and vitamin C from food than nonusers.

When supplement use was considered, researchers found users had much better nutrient levels than nonusers. Across all age groups, taking supplements improved intake of calcium and vitamins A, C, D and E. Calcium and vitamin D consumption often fell below recommended levels, however, even among kids who took supplements.

More than a third of kids using supplements did not get enough calcium. The recommended amount is between 200 and 1,000 milligrams a day for children up to age eight, and 1,300 mg per day for kids age nine and up and teens. Most children between ages two and eight who didn't take supplements failed to get adequate levels of calcium and vitamins D and E.

"This is unfortunate," Bailey said. "Calcium and vitamin D are critical during this age for bone growth and development." Teens fell short on several other essential nutrients as well, including magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A, C and E.

Vitamin E is involved in immune function, vitamin A in vision and bone growth and magnesium promotes nerve function and cellular energy production. At the same time, supplement users were more likely to boost consumption of certain nutrients - such as zinc, folate, iron and vitamin A - above recommended upper limits.

The long-term effects of high doses of these micronutrients in children are unknown, the report noted. The bottom line, Bailey explained, was that for some kids who would have been deficient in some vitamins and minerals, supplements were a help.

"For older children, taking supplements added nutrients for which intake would have been inadequate from food alone," she told Reuters Health. Bailey added that the problem of overloading affected children under age eight the most. The findings highlight the gap between supplement formulations for children and their needs as identified in national research data, Bailey explained.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Health experts want strict implementation of PCPNDT Act

Berhampur: Health experts and activists have sought concrete steps for strict implementation of the Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention of Sex Selection) Act, known as PCPNDT Act to prevent sex determination in Odisha.

Low male-female sex ratio in the state has direct linkage with misuse of technology for sex determination and sex selective abortion, they said at a workshop held here over the weekend on `Strengthening monitoring of PCPNDT Act implementation in Odisha`.

The workshop was organised by Odisha State Legal Services Authority (OSLSA) in collaboration with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, state government and United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

Several health activists and experts from Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Malkanagiri, Nabarangapur, Rayagada and Kandhamal attended the workshop.

The objective of the workshop was to sensitise NGO functionaries?on different provisions under the PCPNDT Act and to prepare a roadmap for local level action for its better implementation, said member secretary of OSLSA B C Rath.

The workshop assumed significance as the child sex ratio in the state stands at an all time low of 934 girls per 1000 boys.The child ratio dipped alarmingly to less than 900 in four districts of Ganjam, Nayagarh, Dhenkanal and Angul, said Deputy Director, family welfare R K Mishra.

Several judicial and health officers, including the chief district medical officer, Ganjam S K Patnaik discussed different aspects of the Act and problems faced in its proper implementation. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Smoking mothers' embryos 'grow more slowly

French academics in an IVF clinic took regular pictures of an egg from the moment it was fertilised until it was ready to be implanted into the mother.

At all stages of development, embryos from smokers were consistently a couple of hours behind, a study showed.The lead researcher, from Nantes University Hospital, said: "You want a baby, quit smoking".

Smoking is known to reduce the chances of having a child. It is why some hospitals in the UK ask couples to give up smoking before they are given fertility treatment.

As eggs fertilised through IVF initially develop in the laboratory before being implanted, it gave doctors a unique opportunity to film the embryos as they divide into more and more cells.

Researchers watched 868 embryos develop - 139 from smokers.In the clinic the embryos of non-smokers reached the five-cell stage after 49 hours. In the smokers it took 50 hours. The eight-cell stage took 62 hours in smokers' embryos, while non-smokers' embryos reached that point after 58 hours.

Senior embryologist and lead researcher, Dr Thomas Freour, told the BBC: "Embryos from smoking women, they behave slower, there is a delay in their development."On average it is about two hours, it is significant and nobody knew that before."

This study cannot say what impact the slower development has, or if this affected the chances of having a child.Dr Freour speculated that "if they go slower, maybe something is starting to go wrong and they wouldn't implant."

His advice was simple: "You should quit smoking, it couldn't be easier. What else can I say? You want a baby, quit smoking."Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said it was an "interesting" study which pioneered the use of new technology.

"It uses a fancy piece of equipment called an embryoscope which allows scientists to watch in real time how embryos develop without disturbing them.

"It's early days for this machine but we need trials like this to test its potential, we know our current methods of embryo selection are based on what looks good down the microscope to a trained eye."The findings were presented at the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) meeting in Turkey.

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