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Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C Deficiency May Damage Babies’ Mental Development

Sunday, September 20, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: vitamin C deficiency, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), learning disabilities are disorders that affect the ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do math calculations, coordinate movements, or direct attention. And the number of Americans with these kinds of learning disabilities is inexplicably huge. In fact, the NINDS web site states eight to 10 percent of all US children under the age of 18 have some type of learning disability.

While the NINDS lists speech therapy and drugs as ways to help youngsters cope with learning disabilities, the big question is what on earth causes so many children to have these learning problems in the first place? Now a new study suggests an explanation. Scientists from the life sciences division of the University of Copenhagen think a lack of vitamin C could impair the mental development of babies both in the womb and as newborns.

Research just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that guinea pigs subjected to moderate vitamin C deficiency had 30 per cent less hippocampus neurons (brain cells that convey information during new learning that involves associations) and far worse spatial memory than guinea pigs given a normal diet. So what does this have to do with humans? People, like guinea pigs, also can only get vitamin C through their diet or supplements. So Jens Lykkesfeldt, who headed the research team, speculates vitamin C deficiency in pregnant and breast-feeding women may lead to the same kind of learning problems in developing human fetuses and newborn babies as was seen in the vitamin C deficit guinea pig offspring.

In fact, in a statement to the media, the researchers pointed out that many factors suggest the brains of newborns are especially vulnerable to even a slight lowering of vitamin C levels. Previous research with mice has shown that a lack of vitamin C to the brain results in damage which resembles that found in premature babies -- and that damage is linked to learning and cognitive disabilities as the child grows older.

Vitamin C deficiency is known to be very common in some areas of the world. For example, the researchers pointed out that population studies in Brazil and Mexico have shown that 30 to 40 per cent of the pregnant women there lack adequate vitamin C and low levels of the vitamin have also been found in their newborn babies. While scientists have not documented how many babies may be born in Denmark or the US who suffer from a deficiency of vitamin C, the University of Copenhagen scientists stated that a conservative estimate is five to 10 per cent, based on the number of adults in those countries known to be deficient in the vitamin.

"We may thus be witnessing that children get learning disabilities because they have not gotten enough vitamin C in their early life. This is unbearable when it would be so easy to prevent this deficiency by giving a vitamin supplement to high-risk pregnant women and new mothers," Dr. Lykkesfeldt said in a press statement.

His research group is currently studying how early in pregnancy vitamin C deficiency affects the embryonic development of guinea pigs. They next plan to study whether the damage may be reversed after birth .

Editor's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

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