Endocrine DIsorders and Vitamin Deficiencies (page 2)
Biochemical imbalances that result from glandular disorders, hypoglycemia, and vitamin deficiencies have been examined for possible roles in learning and behavior disorders. It's been determined that thyroid deficiencies in utero can cause intellectual decrements, and hypothyroidism in babies and toddlers can cause permanent brain damage. So too can high levels of calcium. Excess thyroid hormone can cause hyperactivity. Sugar and refined carbohydrates (white rice, white flour, potato chips)—once thought to be culprits—have for the most part escaped scientific blame for hyperactivity. Though laudable in terms of good nutrition, the vast majority of studies find that for the most pal11imiting intake of cake, candy, and soda do not lead to less active, restless, aggressive, or disruptive children. The number of children who respond to sugar with hyperactivity appears extremely small. Finally, there is no evidence that megadoses of vitamins have any positive impact on learning or behavior.
Although excess thyroid hormone can lead to restlessness and distractibility, insufficient thyroid hormone can create a listless individual who cannot get activated to learn. If they are not treated soon after birth, thyroid deficiencies cause severe intellectual deficits. Most of these children respond favorably to treatment, but subtle losses in intellectual and learning ability may still be apparent.
Abnormal elevation of calcium can cause personality alterations bordering on psychosis, as well as permanent intellectual deficits. Fortunately, these problems can be caught and treated early. Abnormally low calcium levels have not been associated with learning disorders.
Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia
Diabetic children experience episodes of hyperglycemia (excess sugar in the bloodstream) because their bodies don't produce enough insulin for glucose to transfer from the bloodstream into the cells, where it is utilized for energy. These episodes are often accompanied by tiredness, thirst, headaches, frequent urination, and nausea, characteristics that do not foster a child's learning potential. Even if treated with insulin, children with diabetes can suffer some loss in learning and intellectual ability, especially if disease onset is before age 5.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can be devastating in the first two years of life when the brain is developing most rapidly. Untreated, the condition can lead to mental retardation, delayed motor development, and reduced brain size, because the brain's nerve and glial (support) cells begin to deteriorate. Severe hypoglycemia at birth is more likely among twins, newborns of low birth weight, babies of mothers who had kidney dysfunction or became diabetic, and infants who had inadequate intrauterine nutrition. The more severe a pregnant diabetic mother's hypoglycemic episodes, the lower the baby's intellectual abilities. Early treatment can help limit the central nervous system damage, though 75 percent of these children still display central nervous system abnormalities. Although episodic low blood sugar has been blamed for some older children's hyperactivity, research has not substantiated this claim.
Studies of children receiving megadoses of vitamins—often over 1,000 times the usual daily requirement—have not shown that such a regimen reduces hyperactivity or improves learning potential. In fact, in one study heavy doses of vitamins made some children even more disruptive than before. Because of these findings, as well as a paucity of well-controlled studies on the topic, the American Academy of Pediatrics has declared that megavitamin therapy ~s unjustified as a treatment for learning disorders.
© ______ 2004, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- First Grade Sight Words List
- GED Math Practice Test 1