“Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within...”
Romans 12:2

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Hilary's Desk

Infection, nutrition and immunity – Part One

Hilary Butler - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Herald readers woke up yesterday to this screaming headline: Enriched milk trial to cut child sickness. Huh, I thought, is this some follow up to this screaming headline in 2001?  Back then Vitamin lacking in 1 of 10 toddlers told us that:

10 per cent of Auckland infants have vitamin deficiencies.

12 per cent of those aged 6 months to two years do not have enough Vitamin A.

10 per cent do not get enough Vitamin D.

25 per cent do not have enough iron in their blood.

“Bravo,” I hear you say. “Hilary, this should give you something to applaud doctors for, after all your ranting and raving in 1997 about Vitamin A deficiency causing measles complications which was so comprehensively dismissed in statements from Medical Officers of Health throughout the newspapers.”

Not so fast.  Why should anyone be happy about a trial of milk enriched with vitamins and minerals?  They say, it will cut sickness rates.  Maybe. I have a different take on it, but let’s set the scene:

And pardon a short reminisce, while I gaze at one of those antideluvian devices called a tape. You know, not a CD, MP3, or an ipod, but an audio cassette tape. It’s dated 9th August, 1999, 9.45 a.m. and labeled “Dr Cameron Grant, telephone call”.

“Ouch,” you say. “You taped that telephone call?” Yes. I had a feeling it would be a doozer, and so it was. On this tape, Dr Cameron Grant accused me of being personally responsible for the deaths of children resulting from diseases for which there are vaccines. According to him, I was the equivalent of a child murderer. He didn’t quite put it like that, but he might as well have.

I freely admit that in return I accused him of being personally responsible for deaths from measles complications in his hospital in the past, because he and his colleagues not only ignored all the medical literature on Vitamin A in the treatment of measles, but refused to use it to save lives, after making statements in the press saying:

a) Vitamin A in measles treatment had no relevance in developed countries because

b) Developed countries didn’t have the nutritional deficiencies that developing countries “suffered” from.

I think my response to that was two expletives representing “male bovine excrement”.

As you see, the Herald tells us that among under ones in this country, hospital admissions for pneumonia was 18 per 1000 from 2002 – 2006, much higher than other developed countries. The article goes on to tell us that “preventable infectious diseases” are linked to poverty, poor nutrition, overcrowded and damp housing, low rates of immunisation, the cost of access to primary healthcare, and that at least half of child deaths from infections in the world, are attributable to poor nutrition. Dr Grant says that last year, 14% of Auckland children were iron deficient and he suspects zinc deficiency is common too.

I have absolutely no doubt that if you tested a lot of children hospitalized with infectious diseases in Auckland, you would find a high proportion of them had markers of longstanding anaemia, and a raft of other nutrient deficiencies as well. I said so in 1997, something Cameron Grant disagreed with at the time.  I presume he no longer disagrees with me on this one.  I say the same thing today, except it's getting worse, not better.

No doubt feeding those children “fortified milk” over a few months, would assist in resolving some cases of iron anaemia, but not in all babies treated. Some babies don’t “respond” to artificial fortifications, for a variety of reasons. And whether it will assist in the reduction of rates for pneumonia remains to be seen.

I don’t object to the trial per se, but to a thought process which appears to once again create dependency on a medical prescription best described as the self perpetuating ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.

It’s time those who preach “Preventive medicine” taught people “how” to fish, rather than hand out “fish” of short duration, which leaves parents in their previous state of “nutritional ignorance” so that their children, as they grow, continue to experience complaints easily resolved by correct nutrition.

The thought arises though, just how competent “preventive medicine” gurus would be to teach people how to “fish”. In this regard, their knowledge usually lags about 40 years behind those “quacks” they so smugly dismiss as snake oil purveyors.

As witnessed by my GP in 1980, who informed me that the only pregnant people who supplemented with folic acid, were idiots who were captured by old wives tales.  In 1991 when I put on his desk the first proper study proving that Adele Davis was light years ahead of the medical profession, he was strangely silent...

To be continued…

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