A study recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concludes that giving supplemental antioxidants, or folate, or a combination of both to babies with Down syndrome does not increase language development or motor skills.
The study was conducted on 156 babies younger than 7 months, for an 18 month period. Participants were placed in 4 groups: one group was given folate supplements, one group was given extra antioxidants, a third group was given both supplements, and the fourth was given a placebo. (More information on the study has been published online at ScienceDaily.)
I spent an entire chapter in Road Map to Holland discussing the issue of nutritional supplements. I remember my editor asking, “Is this important enough to warrant such a lengthy discussion?” and my reply was, yes!
Then, and now, I feel the same: the human body is comprised of hundreds of thousands of biochemical reactions. That the addition of extra genetic material alters those reactions isn’t in question: what to do about it, well that’s still unknown.
This study looks at the affects of supplemental antioxidants and folate, but not in the megadoses found in such nutritional therapies as Nutrivene-D. So I imagine the families who choose the nutritional therapies will not agree with the results, for that reason.
What this study does accomplish is that it provides a closer look at the issue of nutritional supplements and tries to address some of the flaws in previous studies, and I’m grateful to the scientists who undertook this research.
I guess, as a parent, what I’d really be interested in is a study of the megadoses, because that seems to be a recurring argument in nutritional therapy: that to be effective, the dosage of the supplements needs to be large.
(I’d also recommend Joan Guthrie Medlen’s terrific book, The Down Syndrome Nutrition Handbook, which is full of healthy eating ideas for the whole family.)
EDITED, and I’ve added the link to the study results provided by the paper’s lead author Jill, thank you!