Folic acid may prevent Down Syndrome
The benefits of folic acid continue to emerge. According to a long-term study published in The Lancet in April, women who take folic acid supplements prior to conception lessen their risk of giving birth to babies with Down syndrome. Folic acid has already been found to reduce neural-tube defects and heart disease.
A team of scientists from Ukraine, Tel Aviv University, Sheba Medical Centre in Israel and the University of Leeds in Britain compared 493 Israeli families who had a high risk of NTD with 516 Ukrainian families at high risk for Down syndrome. The NTD at-risk families had 11 cases of Down syndrome out of 1,492 pregnancies, but the same number of healthy mothers of an equivalent age had only 1.87 Down syndrome births. The mothers at risk for Down syndrome pregnancies had seven NTD births out of 1,847, compared with 1.37 in the general population.
The scientists concluded that there is a correlation between the two defects, and some mothers who give birth to babies with NTD or Down syndrome have abnormal metabolism of folate and methyl, as well as mutations in their folate genes.
A trio of new publications geared toward consumers and health care professionals tackles subjects ranging from chamomile to coronary disease.
The Austin, Texas-based American Botanical Council has published a new in-depth, therapeutic review and reference book for the 29 most commonly used herbs in the United States. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs, by Mark Blumenthal, offers a comprehensive review of herbs and their relevance to modern medicine. The book includes a monograph on each herb, a clinical overview on key issues regarding safe, therapeutic use and a simplified information sheet for consumers that includes descriptions, uses, cautionary information, adverse effects, drug interactions and dosages. A separate chapter covers 13 proprietary herbal products that have undergone clinical studies. The book, which sells for $49.95, is available on ABC's Web site, www.herbalgram.org.
A Dozen Dirty Secrets of the Skin Care and Cosmetics Industry Revealed, by Rebecca Harris, D.O. and Nicholas Calvino, D.C., is a free e-book that addresses the role synthetic personal care ingredients play in cancer risk, hormone balance, mood, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, allergies and other conditions. The 25-page e-book can be downloaded at www.skindetox.com.
Another free resource is Taking Health to Heart, a 27-page booklet that describes a comprehensive, natural approach to cardiovascular care. The booklet is published by Shelburne Falls, Mass.-based Pioneer Health Education Library. Topics include Healthy Whole Foods, Heart Smart Supplements and Botanicals. It can be ordered at www.pioneernutritional.com.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 7/p. 28