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Down’s Syndrome: Maternal Diet Might Be Helpful
A nutrient found in egg yolks, liver and cauliflower taken by mothers during pregnancy and nursing may offer lifelong "dramatic" health benefits to people with Down’s syndrome.
A new study done at Cornell University found that more choline during pregnancy and nursing could provide lasting cognitive and emotional benefits to people with Down’s syndrome. The work indicated greater maternal levels of the essential nutrient also could protect against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
"We found that supplementing the maternal diet with additional choline resulted in dramatic improvements in attention and some normalization of emotion regulation in a mouse model of Down’s syndrome," said lead author Barbara Strupp, professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology.
In addition to mental retardation, Down’s syndrome individuals often experience dementia in middle age as a result of brain neuron atrophy similar to that suffered by people with Alzheimer's disease. Strupp said the improved mental abilities found in the Down’s syndrome mice following maternal choline supplements could indicate protection from such neurodegeneration "in the population at large."
Strupp and her co-authors tested Down’s syndrome-model mice born from mothers that were fed a normal diet versus those given choline supplements during their three-week pregnancy and three-week lactation period. They also examined normal mice born from mothers with and without additional choline. The choline-supplemented mothers received about 4.5 times more choline (roughly comparable to levels at the higher range of human intake) than unsupplemented mothers.
Beginning at 6 months of age, the mice performed a series of behavioral tasks over a period of about six months to assess their impulsivity, attention span, emotional control and other mental abilities. The researchers found the unsupplemented Down’s syndrome-model mice became more agitated after a mistake than normal mice, jumping repeatedly and taking longer to initiate the next trial. The choline-supplemented Down’s syndrome-model mice showed partial improvement in these areas.
Strupp said the results are consistent with studies by other researchers that found increased maternal choline intake improves offspring cognitive abilities in rats. However, this is the first study to evaluate the effects of maternal choline supplementation in a rodent model of Down’s syndrome.
REHACARE.de; Source: Cornell University
- More about the Cornell University at www.cornell.edu
( Source: REHACARE.de )