Saturday, July 26, 2014

Micronutrient Deficiencies May Slow Down Wound Healing

Wound care is the process by which the skin repairs itself following any kind of injury, whether it’s the smallest paper cut or a major traumatic injury. Many common childhood injuries require either basic or advanced wound care - including scrapes and skin punctures due to common playground accidents, or surgical incisions for common surgeries such as appendectomies.

Basic topical wound care, such as regularly changing bandages and keeping the cut clean and dry, is common knowledge. But the role nutrition plays in aiding wound care in children is less well known.

Proper nutrition during wound care is vital for effective healing. If the body is suffering from vitamin or mineral deficiencies, it could lack the correct building blocks that enable effective wound healing. Diet can affect how fast a wound heals, how strong the wound tissue becomes and how well the body fights off infection. A poor diet can turn a normal wound into a chronic one that never heals.

There is a lack of consensus regarding nutritional guidelines for wound healing because there have been no generally accepted guidelines governing optimal nutrition to aid the wound healing process for children or adults.

Against this background, a recent study published the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice sought to create evidence and consensus-based recommendations on optimal nutrition guidelines that would support wound healing in children. The study’s researchers were also trying to understand whether micronutrient deficiencies affect wound healing in children.

As a result of an initial meta-analysis of the current research, 6 articles were found that addressed the researchers’ clinical questions, and based on this information, they formulated 5 clinical recommendations. The researchers applied these recommendations to the care of 49 patients from December 5, 2011, to December 5, 2012.

According to the study:
Evidence supported evaluating patients for vitamin C, zinc, and protein deficiency. Of the patients where laboratory values were checked, 9 patients were zinc deficient (33%) and 12 patients were vitamin C deficient (48%).
The implementation of the researchers’ recommendations has led to increased awareness and testing for micronutrient deficiencies in children undergoing wound care treatment. In addition, there is closer monitoring of nutrition status and intake during the wound healing process.

This is an interesting study that will hopefully further the case for an international consensus on proper nutritional guidelines for wound care and other medical issues. We look forward to continued research into the impact of nutrition on disease and wound care.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Can Iron Play a Role in ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment?

The number of children being diagnosed with ADHD has grown tremendously over the last 15 years. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis continues to rise, from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 and to 11.0% in 2011. There is vigorous debate as to what is causing the rise in diagnoses. The etiology of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is attributed to different factors: genetic, environmental, and biological (specifically dopamine neurotransmitters). Iron plays a vital role, as it is essential for the correct functioning of dopamine hormones and neurotransmitters.

The U.S. National Institutes of Mental Health reports that thanks to brain imaging studies, scientists now understand that children with ADHD have brains that mature in a normal pattern but on a schedule that’s delayed by about 3 years. It is this delay that causes symptoms including hyperactivity, difficulty in paying attention and controlling behavior. These symptoms are usually controlled with some form of psychostimulant medication like Ritalin.

A recent study, published in the July 2014 edition of the Society’s journal Radiology and sponsored by the Radiological Society of North America, may help doctors more accurately diagnose children with ADHD and thus enable them to more effectively treat children with the disorder in a timely manner.
Currently, doctors rely on subjective clinical interviews and questionnaires in order to detect ADHD. The purpose of the study was to look at whether brain iron levels could offer a potential biomarker for more accurate diagnosis of ADHD, especially in borderline cases.

The research team measured brain iron levels in 22 children and adolescents with ADHD, 12 of whom had never been on medication for their condition, and 27 healthy control children and adolescents. The team used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique called magnetic field correlation imaging. This is a new technique introduced by the study’s co-authors in 2006. Iron levels in the body for all of the participants were measured by blood draws.

The study showed that the 12 ADHD patients who had never received medication had significantly lower brain iron levels than the 10 ADHD patients who had been on psychostimulant medication. Their brain iron levels were also lower than the iron levels of the 27 children and adolescents in the control group. In contrast, ADHD patients who had previous psychostimulant medication treatment had brain iron levels comparable to the controls. This suggests that brain iron may increase to normal levels with psychostimulant treatment.

"Our research suggests that iron absorption into the brain may be abnormal in ADHD given that atypical brain iron levels are found even when blood iron levels in the body are normal," said Vitria Adisetiyo, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. "We found no differences in blood iron measures between controls, medication-naïve ADHD patients or psychostimulant-medicated ADHD patients."

Scientists are continuing to study the relationship between iron and ADHD. Another recent study  suggests that blood iron levels can affect the severity of ADHD symptoms, since iron deficiency is common in patients with ADHD, and its correction may be useful in the treatment of the disorder.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Scientists Discover Key Probiotic for Allergy Relief

Spring is generally known as “allergy season”, but July and August can be as challenging for allergy sufferers as April and May. Weeds and grasses are the main allergy triggers. The worst of these is ragweed, which usually arrives in August. Ragweed can travel many kilometers on wind currents, and therefore can trigger a reaction even in allergy sufferers who don’t have any of the plant growing in their immediate vicinity.

According to the CDC, 6.6 million people have reported hay fever symptoms in the US in the last 12 months and 7.8 million have reported respiratory allergy symptoms. Reported skin and food allergy sufferers were 8.8 million and 4.1 million respectively.

Traditional allergy treatments include over the counter antihistamines, analgesics for pain relief and nasal sprays. Doctors can prescribe stronger remedies if OTC medicines fail to relieve symptoms.

For decades, doctors and allergy sufferers have relied on these treatments to help allergy sufferers. But recently, scientists investigated the possibility of using probiotics to treat allergy symptoms. According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers started to study the relationship between probiotic supplements and allergies a few years ago and found that certain combinations of probiotics could reduce the nasal symptoms of allergic reactions.

Another study recently published in the Journal of Functional Foods looked at the anti-allergic behavior of ten lactic acid bacteria strains prepared from Mongolian dairy products and orally administered to mice injected with three type I allergy models. Type I allergy models include allergic rhinitis, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, and allergic asthma. Doctors have expressed concern that the incidence of these allergic diseases is increasing.

Japanese and Mongolian researchers involved in the study observed that of the 10 strains, the oral administration of the Lactobacillus plantarum (strain 06CC2 probiotic strain) “significantly alleviated” type I allergy symptoms across all three allergy models in the mice. The strain was isolated from the traditional Mongolian cheese, Aaruul – a curdled cow’s milk cheese which is dehydrated and dried in the sun.

The study’s authors noted that the impact of Lactobacillus plantarum was linked to T helper type 1 (Th1)/T helper type 2 (Th2) balance cells that play an important role in the immune system. Each type of cell has a different trigger and area of immunity specialization.

According to the study:
The 06CC2 strain was suggested to alter the Th1/Th2 balance toward Th1 dominance through intestinal immunity in these allergy models in mice, resulting in the suppression of mast cell activation, followed by histamine release and vascular permeability.
The researchers concluded that functional foods which include probiotic supplements could be an important part of allergic disease treatment both prophylactically and therapeutically. We welcome this research and look forward to further study.