Effects of food supplementation on cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, and nutritional status in young children at risk of undernutrition: randomized controlled trialBMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2397 (Published 22 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2397
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Think Zinc Re: Effects of food supplementation on cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, and nutritional status in young children at risk of undernutrition: randomized controlled trial
Professor Susan Roberts and colleagues conclude that, contrary to current understanding, supplementary feeding for 23 weeks can improve executive function, brain health and nutritional status, in vulnerable children living in low income countries. They think further research is needed to optimize nutritional prescriptions for other vulnerable groups.
In 1989, we discovered that dyslexic children were highly significantly likely to be zinc deficient in their sweat compared with age and sex matched controls (p <0.0001) but they had low normal range serum zinc levels. The children with dyslexia also tended to have higher concentrations of copper, lead and cadmium in their hair but there were no differences in hair zinc levels. In 1982 we had also found higher hair cadmium and aluminium levels in dyslexic children. Toxic metals can accumulate when zinc levels are low. Cadmium usually comes from parental smoking.
In animals, zinc deficiency during pregnancy can cause learning impairment, behaviour disorders and immune dysfunction persisting for several generations. Brains of animal offspring deprived of zinc have shown increased concentrations in copper and catecholamine and random permanent microscopic abnormalities in the hippocampus, which is essential for working memory.
However, too high zinc levels can impair copper stores and repletion of both depends on doses - for adults 30 mg /day of zinc and 1 mg/day of copper is usually adequate.
Foresight, a charity for Preconception Care, measured levels of essential nutrient in both parents 3-4 months before conception and usually advised use of non-hormonal contraception until deficiencies or imbalances had been corrected. The results were excellent especially in couples who had histories of previously unexplained infertility or recurrent miscarriages.[4,5]
1 Grant ECG, Howard JM, Davies S, Chasty H, Hornsby B, Galbraith J. Zinc deficiency in children with dyslexia: concentrations of zinc and other minerals in sweat and hair. BMJ 1989;296:607-609.
2 Capel ID, Pinnock MH, Dorrell M, Williams DC, Grant ECG. Comparison of concentrations of some trace, bulk and toxic metals in the hair of normal and dyslexic children. Clin Chem 1981;28:879-880.
3 Stanstead HH. Zinc: essentiality for brain development and function. Nutr Rev 1985;43:129-137.
4 Barnes B, Grant ECG et al. Nutrition and preconception care. Lancet 1985;2:1297.
5 Ward N. Preconceptional care and pregnancy outcome. J Nutr Med 1995;5:205-206.
Competing interests: No competing interests
Re: Effects of food supplementation on cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, and nutritional status in young children at risk of undernutrition: randomized controlled trial
The article here is a result of zealous work and excellent presentation. It should pave a path for uplifting the future of underprivileged children, MEDICALLY!
What really has always bothered me are the SOCIAL aspects of the problem such as:
1) Per capita income of the family of the undernourished child as compared to national average,
2) Educational level of the parents of the affected children as compared to the national average,
3) Qualitative and quantitative differences between diets of the affected children and the national average diet of children of the similar age,
4) Cognitive level of the affected children as compared to the national average,
5) The cost of the NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS , per day as well as over the required period of supplementation,
6) Whether the supplementation has to continue over entire childhood,
7) Various unhygienic practices involved that cause infections leading to malnutrition.
8) Addictions in the parents,
9) Broken families and single parenthood,
10) Unscientific ideas about rearing and upbringing of children.
Unless the root causes for the malnutrition are found and eliminated any program for nutritional supplements will provide only symptomatic relief.
Competing interests: No competing interests