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Should Newborns Come With a Manual

Should Newborns Come with a Manual?

When you purchase a new car, a cell phone, a barbeque or almost anything today, it comes with a manual that helps you understand your new purchase and instructs you how to operate it.

When a mother gives birth to a baby, that newborn contains a complexity of genes and traits that are totally unknown to the mother but with today’s technology all that information could be available and could provide a wealth of knowledge on the upbringing and future health of that child.

It was not that long ago that the entire human genome was marked out and we found that the human body contained about 30,000 different genes. When this information was first published, scientists mistakenly concluded that individual genes were responsible for different things in our body such as skin colour, hair colour, height and even certain diseases. Years later we have found that nearly all human characteristics, diseases and conditions are caused by the interaction of a number of genes and although two people can even have an identical set (twins) they still may not develop the same illnesses.

In the most recent study on MS (multiple sclerosis), a debilitating condition in which the body’s immune system damages the protective sheath that covers nerves, interfering with the brain’s ability to send messages to the body, it was found that this disease involved between 23 and 29 different genes acting with each other in multiple combinations that only a computer could calculate. Not only that, the same gene can sometimes come in more than one form and these are called alleles. If certain forms of this gene are there then you may be more susceptible to the disease. This means that all the problems caused by MS such as fatigue, balance, difficulty walking, bladder dysfunction and paralysis are not caused by one simple gene but by a specific combination of genes and specific forms of those genes that are present in all our bodies.

A new study recently published about autism looked at 200 pairs of twins in which one child became autistic and the other did not. Their genetic makeup was exactly the same but the manner in which genes express themselves caused disease in one child and no problem in the other. This took into account the fact they were twins, were subject to the same environmental conditions in the womb, same environmental conditions after birth, same foods, same vaccinations and yet one of them became autistic. In that study about half the twins were identical and other half were fraternal. However there was no statistical difference between the two groups even though we would assume that the likelihood of autism in identical twins should be greater. Once again if you consider the fact that the same gene in each child can be expressed in two different forms (alleles) and that a large variety of genes must act specifically in concert to cause the disease, it is easy to see why being predisposed to illness may not necessarily result in that illness.

Another study published just this month showed that couples who had one autistic child were 20 percent more likely to have a second autistic child. Obviously there is some connection in the genetic code of these parents causing this condition, although many studies feel that either prenatal exposure to toxins or specific toxins in the environment may trigger these genes to act in a way that causes a child to become autistic. Dr.Andrew Wakefield terrified the world when he published articles indicating that the thimerisol in the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine was the cause of autism. Because his study was a total fraud, the publications were withdrawn and his medical license was revoked.

The newest information available to us shows that genes do not decide the eye colour of our babies at all but that the trend to blue eyes is an evolutionary change. As human beings spend more time indoors and less time outside hunting and gathering, the need for brown eyes which protect against the glare of the sun has been replaced with lighter eyes and more blue eyed babies in spite of the parent’s eye colour.

Family history is very important because it tells us if parents or relatives suffered from heart disease, diabetes, cancers and even mental diseases. However when we talk about medical history, the important word. is “predisposed”. This means that no matter who we are, what we are and where we came from, it is good to know to which medical conditions we are the most susceptible.

Information in the Manual:

This brings me back to my original question and with the amount of medical knowledge we have today, we could produce a manual for each child that would guide them through their lives and maximize their chances of living a long and healthy life.

Let us consider a newborn that comes from a family that has a larger number of fat cells than normal. One of the parents was a Type 2 diabetic and there was a history of heart disease in one parent and one grandparent.

The manual for this child would stress the importance of a very healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, fish oil supplements from birth and as the child grows a regimen of at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. This preventative care would ensure that even though the child was at risk of being overweight and diabetic, it could avoid both of these problems and would probably even have a very healthy heart.

Another example would be a child born to a mother who has MS (Multiple Sclerosis). A female would have to be even more closely monitored because the disease is prevalent in females and the child would be given megadoses of Vitamin D from birth because we know that the slightest amount of Vitamin D deficiency could activate the genes that cause the disease. In fact, megadoses of Vitamin D would be taken by the mother during her pregnancy to reduce the risk of having a baby born with MS.

Returning to the autism study with the twins, it was found that phthalates, chemicals found in many consumer products, are endocrine disruptors, hormonally active substances than can interfere with a variety of developmental processes. On the other hand, taking prenatal vitamins around the time of conception has been associated with a lower risk of autism. So maybe we should have a prenatal manual and a manual that comes with the baby but in this case using prenatal vitamins might prevent a child from a lifetime of affliction with autism. Also considering that autism runs in families, we could look into all the environmental factors and see if anything could be changed to reduce risk.

Another study just out this week indicates there are five specific gene variants that cause the lethal form of prostate cancer. A simple DNA test at birth could show the presence of these five genes and precautions could be taken from birth to prevent this disease. It has been documented that a diet rich in carotenoids, fruits and vegetables of colour, have a profound healthy effect on the prostate gland. Also Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and from flax also are very important in preventing prostate problems. Learning this from birth and given a manual with a special diet for your baby boy would be a great asset to his life and health.

Prevention is always superior and easier than the treatment of disease. Preparing and providing this information to a very new mother could have a great impact on the health care system and save us all billions of dollars while developing a healthier society.

There are some diseases that are more difficult to prevent than others such as cancer, but knowledge is power and the more knowledge we can supply to the mother, the greater the chance of avoiding disease.

Just because you are genetically predisposed to a disease does not mean you will get it. Almost 20 percent of the population has the genetic combination that causes Alzheimer’s disease but only 2 percent of these people will actually get it. Most people consider me to be a very healthy person but my father was overweight, smoked, diabetic and had many heart attacks before he died at the young age of 68, my current age. He was a taxi driver who worked nights and slept during the day and never exercised. On the other hand I exercise every day, eat a very healthy diet, maintain a very healthy weight and generally take very good care of my health. I take fish oil twice daily, a high potency B Complex, 100mg of Coenzyme Q10 (a little gift from dad, a slightly enlarged left ventricle of my heart), Vitamin E and Vitamin D. I am sure that I possess a number of bad genes from my father but because of my lifestyle those bad genes are not expressed in my body.

Research has shown us many of the genes that work together to cause disease. When we combine medical history of the parent along with a complete examination of the DNA of the baby we could easily produce a manual that would optimize the health of that newborn.

We have the knowledge. Why not write it down in a book and present it to each mother in the hospital?


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