Health News # 14: Cellular phones & Vitamin D’s effect on the brain and Vitamin D’s effect on adolescents

Cellular threat to kids

Kids using their cell phones, using these common and seemingly safe devices significantly raises the risk of brain cancer in children.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31 percent of 8-10-year-olds, almost 70 percent of 11-to 14-year-olds, and 85 percent of 15- to 18-year-olds have cell phones. And, the majority of teens have owned a cell phone for five years or more.

Holding a phone to your ear appears innocent enough, but there’s the health concern regarding long-term exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields that are emitted by them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently classified the devices as possible cancer-causing agents, adding them to a list that also includes lead, DDT, engine exhaust and chloroform. The highest risk of brain tumors is found among those who use cell phones most frequently.

The WHO cited a 40 percent increased risk for glioma, which is a malignant brain tumor, for “heavy cell phone users” who averaged 30 minutes per day over a 10-year period.

Kids are on the phone about an hour a day talking, and 90 minutes texting (averaging 118 messages a day!).

Experts say there is no safe level of cell phone use, only a probable safe duration of exposure — brain cells may be damaged after about 30 seconds of bombardment from wireless signals.

In most cases, we can change bad habits, in the case of cell phones, proper education about potential dangers, and limiting their use, are important steps in keeping children safe from harm. READ MORE

Vitamin D and its effect on the brain

Low vitamin D status is associated with worse neurological outcomes in patients with severe brain injury
September 15, 2017

Brain injury is usually due to one of the four major causes:

1. Closed head injuries, which occur when the brain strikes the inside of the skull.
2. Penetrating injuries are caused when the skull is penetrated in some way.
3. Anoxic injuries occur when there is not enough oxygen in the brain, causing brain cells to die.
4. Toxic injuries are a result of exposure to toxic chemicals, which can damage or kill brain cells.

Neurological injuries can result from chronic diseases, such as neuromuscular disorders, stroke, invasive tumors, infection and more.

Research has established associations between vitamin D and cognitive development, cognitive decline, mental health disorders and traumatic brain injury. However, very little recent research has explored the effect of vitamin D status on neurological outcomes in neuro-critical care patients.

In this study, researchers decided to analyze the relationship between vitamin D status and recovery of neuro-critical care patients. A total of 497 critically ill patients hospitalized in a neuro-critical care unit (NCCU) were included in this study. All patients had their serum vitamin D levels measured, underwent a Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) test and were present for a three-month follow-up after discharge. The GOS is a test which analyzes the mental and physical capacity of individuals after major cerebral trauma. Scores indicate the following:

1: Death

2: Persistent vegetative state

3: Severe disability

4: Moderate disability

5: Low disability

This is what the researchers found:

1. 36.6% were considered to be vitamin D deficient (vitamin D status <20 ng/ml; 50 nmol/L).
2. A total of 28.6% of the participants had a low GOS score (1, 2 or 3)
3. Vitamin D deficient patients were more likely to return to the NCCU within 30 days of discharge.
4. Vitamin D deficient patients had significantly lower GOS scores after the three-month follow-up visit.

The researchers concluded that Vitamin D deficiency on admission is associated with a worse 3-month outcome as measured by GOS scores in patients who presented to our NCCU. READ MORE

Vitamin D’s effect on adolescents

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with emotional, behavioral and peer relationship problems among older adolescents.

About 30% of adolescents develop emotional or behavioral problems before they reach adulthood. Some of the factors that may affect a child’s risk of exhibiting behavioral issues are:

1. Family environment
2. Socioeconomic status
3. Education
4. Stress
5. Dietary habits.

In recent years, researchers have begun looking at the role of vitamin D status in mental health outcomes among adolescents.

The German National Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents says that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in children between the ages of 7 and 13 years.

Researchers collected data from 9,068 children between 3 and 17 years of age from May 2003 to May 2006. The parents of the children filled out the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQ) regarding their child’s mental health status. A higher SDQ score indicates increased severity of problematic behaviors and emotional issues. The children were interviewed in person and received a medical examination to assess physical and mental health status. Additionally, all children had their serum 25(OH)D levels measured.

Here is what the researchers found:

1. The average vitamin D of all participants was 18.6 ng/ml (46.65 nmol/l).
2. Vitamin D status was inversely associated with emotional problems, peer relationship issues and rating on total behavioral difficulties among children.
3. An increase of 10 ng/ml for boys and 10.2 ng/ml for girls was associated with a slight decrease in total behavioral difficulties (SDQ). This relationship was slightly stronger in boys compared to girls
4. vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with higher total SDQ ratings among older children (12-17 years). READ MORE

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