Presidents have constituents, Celebrities have fans

Public servants serve the public, and they serve all of the public without discrimination due to a person’s race, color, religion, sex, place of national origin, age, or level of ability, or at least they are supposed to. As a government employee in a small agency I frequently performed all of the roles for a daily clinic, including clerical duties and measuring patients in addition to the nutrition assessment and counseling duties that would have been my only role in a large clinic. And in our borrowed offsite spaces I might have had to mop or shovel snow or perform some other cleaning tasks too. Administrative duties such as updating policy manuals and writing monthly reports was squeezed in as time allowed.

So I’m aware that updating policy manuals can be easy to put off.  It’s been said that you should “Hire a thief to catch a thief.”  So it might also be a good idea to “Hire a bullsh!tter to detect bullsh!t.” Jokes are funny when they contain a kernel of truth — A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree is sometimes jokingly called a “BullSh!t” degree, and the Masters (MS) degree is “More Sh!t” and the PhD is “Piled Higher and Deeper“. A person who made it through college might chuckle because they know how many classes and papers and essay tests they had to complete somehow, whether the answers they gave were good, bad, or really bad.

If elected as President I had suggested that one area I wanted to focus on was reviewing old policies and working to eliminate or revise obsolete programs or policies. Out of date programs could be eliminated or updated while more important programs like anticorrosion additives for water pipelines could be highlighted as critically important for all communities to provide consistently. I couldn’t possibly be able to read or understand all of the policies and procedures involved though; I would ask the workers doing the daily work what aspects of their jobs they felt were most important and which they felt were just busy work and then I would go read the policy books to see if the things the workers had mentioned matched what the administrators had written — and other strategies like that — spend time in the trenches where the really important stuff gets done each day.

The government has many roles and many workers doing crucially important things everyday — it is not like a business that can just be closed for a few days whenever politicians want to prove that they can.

A public servant and a politician may be two different species. I’m not sure, I haven’t worked with any politicians on a daily basis.  I worked with public servants and we served the public without discrimination. The clients were not fans though seeking entertainment, they were constituents seeking assistance with public services — two different species — two different types of goals. Entertainment may amuse but government agencies provide food and housing and health assistance and without discrimination.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a lactation educator and Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Newborn screening for autism – 3 sets of 5 potential biomarkers

I bought the research study regarding newborn screening for autism and it is exciting but was based on a small number of patients with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (n=16, control group n=32).

  1. Newborn screening for autism: in search of candidate biomarkers. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23547820 ]

The research study evaluated the newborn umbilical cord blood for 90 biomarkers (various types of lab tests), 76 biomarkers were found to have consistant data available for all study subjects,  and three sets of five biomarkers were found to be consistently increased or decreased in the infants who were diagnosed with autism later in life compared to the infants in the control group (the research study only used patients with an autism diagnosis who had been screened and diagnosed by the same physician in order to reduce risk of inconsistent diagnostic standards in the experimental group (n=16).

The three sets of five biomarkers need to be tested with a larger group of children with autism diagnoses to see if the results can be repeated. Feasibly to save money on lab tests all newborns might be screened with the set of five most predictive lab tests and the infants who are positive for those five might then be screened for the second set of five tests or all ten of the other biomarkers. The fifteen biomarkers include calcitonin (increased) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH, decreased). Low TSH levels can cause increased calcitonin levels which causes reduced blood calcium levels. Elevated blood levels of calcium may cause an increase in calcitonin and having adequate levels of hormone 1, 25 D may be necessary for keeping calcitonin levels within a normal range. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC442503/]

Vitamin D was not one of the 90 lab tests that were included in this research study, however the sibling study performed in Sweden suggested that low vitamin D at birth is involved but that other factors are also involved because all of the children born to Somalian refugees were found to have low vitamin D so that lab value would not be helpful as a screening test. 2) Swedish Study Suggests Low Vitamin D at Birth May Increase Autism Risk [https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/swedish-study-suggests-low-vitamin-d-birth-may-increase-autism-risk]

Alpha feto-protein (AFP) is one of the fifteen biomarkers found to be predictive for autism later in life. Levels of AFP have been found to be increased in both the mothers of infants who develop autism later in life and in the infants who develop autism later in life. Buy the research study to find out the other twelve – feasibly a concerned parent (with money and a cooperative physician) might be able to have their newborn’s blood screened for the fifteen biomarkers on their own initiative, right away, rather than waiting for the mainstream medical industry to do further research studies.

— The fact that autism was unknown in Somalia suggests that it is unlikely to be a naturally occurring condition and that it is unlikely to be caused by a lack of anti-autism medicine or by the lack of an anti-autism vaccination, so waiting for the for-profit medical industry to devise a for-profit strategy to prevent autism seems like it might take awhile. Concerned parents should have a right to seek effective care for their children and for themselves.

Autism seems to be a condition that occurs prenatally which leaves the newborn infant with metabolic differences but who otherwise appears normal and then, depending on nutritional and environmental conditions, at around age two to four the child’s development shifts towards symptoms of autism. The goal of newborn screening would be to identify which infants are most at risk for that later shift towards autism so that they might be able to be given additional care in order to prevent the damaging autoimmune like changes to the child’s brain. A few different genetic defects that affect nutrient needs may be involved so a newborn who is identified as high risk for developing autism symptoms later in life might then benefit from being screened for genetic defects in the methylation cycle, or with the vitamin D binding protein, or with hemoglobin metabolism. Infants identified as more at risk for autism later in life may also benefit from being screened for hypothyroidism, iodine deficiency, or an excess of bromide, chloride and fluoride.

In summary, for now, this is complicated but very exciting — we have the information we need in order to help women prevent autism before conception and to help identify which newborns may be more at risk for developing autism symptoms later in life so that we can help give the infants the additional nutritional and environmental support that might help them prevent the longterm autoimmune like brain damage from ever occurring.

Older individuals who already have autism diagnoses may also be helped by additional nutritional and environmental support (reduce their exposure to pollutants and foods or foods additives that their unique metabolism can’t digest as well as average) but a “cure” for the changes that already occurred in the brain may not be possible for children and adults who have already been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Individualized nutritional support might help reduce negative symptoms and improve quality of life for patients who already have an autism diagnosis.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

BVO, Brominated vegetable oil is in the same chemical family as PBDE, a flame retardant

Good news about the food additive brominated vegetable oil — the Coca Cola and Pepsi companies are phasing out use of the flavoring agent in order to have a product line that is consistent across global food markets — the food additive has been prohibited from use as a food additive in Japan, India and the European Union.

BVO is in some citrus soft drinks including Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fresca, and Fanta. It’s also in sports drinks like Powerade and some pre-mixed cocktails.”  It is a food additive that is in the “same chemical family as flame-retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).” “Early studies suggest that flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, fertility, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.” [http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20130129/brominated-vegetable-oil-qa?page=2]

A study in 2012 found that in the U.S. on average we take in more BVO than PBDEs, 4000 times more for adults and 1000 times more for children. BVO was approved for general use in 1958 in the U.S. and then in the 1970s it was modified to approval for use in beverages for an “interim” time period awaiting further research — but we’re still waiting. Use of BVO as a food additive has been banned in Japan, India, and the European Union. In the U.S. it is approved for use in beverages at a level up to 15 parts per million and on average it is added at a level of 8 parts per million. There is some concern that consumers who drink larger portions of the beverages containing BVO on a more frequent basis may be receiving too much of the chemical.    Read More:  [http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20130129/brominated-vegetable-oil-qa?page=2]

So how much soda per day might be enough to cause acute bromide toxicity? — Snopes.com (March 16, 2015) write-up on BVO includes two medical reports of bromide toxicity where one patient reported drinking 2 to 4 liters of BVO containing soda per day and the other reported drinking up to 8 liters per day. According to the Snopes report both the PepsiCo and Coca Cola beverage companies have been actively working to phase out use of BVO in all of their beverages. Use of BVO in the Gatorade line of beverages by PepsiCo has already been phased out. The Coca Cola company plans to have the ingredient phased out of all of their beverages by the end of 2015. The companies stand by the safety of the ingredient but also respect the individual consumer’s desire for more natural products and the value of having a product that is consistent across global markets.

Non carbonated fruit flavored beverages also may contain BVO, (citrus flavors more typically). If an adult male can develop bromide toxicity by consuming 2 to 8 liters of a beverage containing BVO per day then a child or toddler, roughly, might get sick by regularly consuming half or a quarter of that amount — or 1/4 liter to 4 liters per day (or approximately 8 ounces to 4 quarts of ‘juice drink’ per day) — however an infant or toddler may be more at risk than adults due to their having less well developed liver function and due to their brains and thyroids still being in developmental stages, so the infant or toddler drinking a BVO containing ‘juice’ drink may be more at risk than adults for having neurotoxin damage or thyroid dysfunction occur. A developing fetus may also be more at risk than adults so avoiding BVO containing beverages during pregnancy and the perinatal time period may help protect the developing infant’s brain and thyroid.

Over the long term any use of brominated products may be adding to the risk of eventually developing hypothyroidism later in life for men, women or children, so while it might be a very good idea to avoid brominated vegetable oil while pregnant or trying to get pregnant, it  might also be a good idea for everyone to avoid it for the sake of their own thyroid’s health. Bromide is chemically very similar to iodine and it may be incorporated into the thyroid hormone instead of iodine in cases of long term iodine deficiency — but the molecule of bromide (or fluoride or chloride) may be making the larger molecule of the thyroid hormone no longer able to function properly — the bromide might be used to produce thyroid hormone that seems like thyroid hormone to a lab test but might not be as functional as a thyroid hormone within the body.

For more information about iodine, and the other halides/halogens: bromide, chloride and fluoride, see Dr. Brownstein’s book:

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./