While few things are more precious than a newborn baby, almost nothing is more heartbreaking than a baby born with a defect, especially one that could have been prevented. Of course, we love this baby as much as one who is without physical defect, but our heart aches for the struggles this child will face in life. Perhaps it is the inability to speak or move properly due to cerebral palsy. Or maybe it is a facial defect such as a cleft lip or palate, which also interferes with speech and even the ability to nurse properly. What about Down’s Syndrome? These lovely children are often sweet and affectionate, but usually fail to mature to a point where they can be self-sufficient, thus remaining life-long dependents. So how do you make a healthy baby? The simple answer is that it starts with healthy parents because,
“You can only pass on to your offspring what you yourself already possess... and if you are unhealthy, then Baby is prone to be unhealthy too.” --Julie Formby
Proper preparation is necessary for healthy babies! Traditional people groups understood this concept and would prepare engaged couples by feeding them special diets for 6-12 months prior to marriage and conception. And these people had healthy babies; birth defects were rare. Even as early as the 1950s, some researchers knew that neural tube defects (NTDs), more commonly called spina bifida, could be prevented through supplementation with a few pennies’ worth of folic acid (I recommend the more natural forms of folate or folinic acid), sometimes referred to as Vitamin B9. But it took decades before this information was integrated into medical practice:
“In 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that women with a history of a prior NTD-affected pregnancy should consume 4000 μg of folic acid daily starting at the time they begin planning a pregnancy. Subsequently, in 1992, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 μg of folic acid daily through fortification, supplementation, and diet to prevent NTDs. In 1998, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended that women capable of becoming pregnant should consume 400 μg of folic acid daily from fortified foods or supplements, or both, in addition to that obtained through a normal diet. In 2009, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force published updated guidelines that reinforced these recommendations.” (1)
What is common knowledge now was not known by the general public some 60 years ago, but there is still more nutrition that is needed to prevent NTDs. Not only is B9 supplementation important within the first 28 days after conception, but so is Zinc. Did you know this important fact? Zinc deficiency can increase your risk of having a baby with a preventable “midline defect,” including but not limited to spina bifida. Other midline defects that can be avoided through proper supplementation with B9 and/ or zinc before and during pregnancy include:
- Cleft palate/ lip
- Hernias-- dorsal, hiatal, umbilical, diaphragmatic, inguinal, etc.
- Urogenital defects-- malformation of genitals (including hermaphroditism) or kidneys
- Brain defects-- hydrocephaly, ancephaly, etc.
I don’t know about you, but learning about this made me angry! With modern medicine, there is no reason, outside of the sovereignty of G-d, that a baby should be born with such a defect, yet in 2005 over 21,000 American babies were born with a midline defect (2), and even more were born with these PREVENTABLE “birth defects:”
- 8,000-10,000 with Cerebral palsy (deficiency of zinc, copper, B6, perhaps caused by malabsorption by the mother due to celiac disease) (3), (4)
- Over 2,155 with limb defects-- clubbed limbs, webbed/ extra/ missing toes & fingers (*)
- Over 6,236 with heart & lung defects (5)
- 6,037 with Down’s syndrome (6), (7 at 17:15)-- even after birth, DS children and adults tend toward zinc deficiency.
Here is more about Down’s syndrome from Dr. Peter Glidden:
“Down’s syndrome is a genetic disease which is irreversible once the child is born. In this particular case, the diagnosis was made during the pregnancy. Sometime in the first 3 months of the pregnancy, fluid from the mother’s womb was collected through a procedure called ‘amniocentesis.’ Analysis of the fluid determined that the developing fetus had Down’s syndrome. Upon receiving the diagnosis, the mother started an aggressive Naturopathic nutrition program and about seven months later, the child was born completely normal. This happened because the gene that codes for Down’s syndrome is turned on by the absence of nutrients in the mother’s system. (This is true of all genetic diseases, not just Down’s syndrome). When the mother became 100% nutrified by taking nutritional supplements, the genetic expression of the disease was turned off. In this case, it was turned off before it was too late, and the child was born with perfect health. Not bad. Do you think the mother was happy? What about the child? This is just the tip of the Naturopathic iceberg called ‘cure.’” (8)
A simple, nutritional deficiency? Preventable? Unbelievable! I am so thankful to have learned about this so that I can help my clients who are wanting to have healthy babies!
So, what if you are not wanting to have a baby-- do you still need zinc? YES! Sufficient zinc in your diet AND stored in your body assists with:
- Assimilation of B vitamins
- 25 enzymes of digestion
- Carbohydrate digestion
- Phosphorus metabolism
- Disorganization of alcohol in the body along with the enzyme needed for this process
- Insulin synthesis
- Immune system-- high concentrations of zinc are found in white blood cells
- Mental health-- depression, paranoia
- Eating disorders-- athletes sweat out zinc, so it must be replenished!
- Wound & burn healing-- this ties back to midline defects in utero. There is a seam down the middle of the body that seals up around Day 28 of gestation. Without adequate zinc this sealing process is incomplete resulting in any number of midline defects.
- Healthy hair, skin & nails-- coarse, wiry hair, baldness, acne, certain forms of dermatitis, white spots on nails. High volumes of zinc are found in the hair, skin & nails.
- Synthesis of nucleic acid-- DNA & RNA
- Growth and normal development of sexual organs and reproductive system
- Proper function of the prostate gland-- large stores are found here as well as in the pancreas, liver, thyroid, kidneys, bones, voluntary muscles, eyes. Many of these same organs contain high levels of selenium as well. Read more about the importance selenium to reproductive health in my blog: A Brazil Nut a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!
- Production of progesterone and testosterone-- to be balanced by estrogen, which requires copper for production. Read more about how to balance your hormones naturally in my eBook End the Hormone Madness.
- Fertility-- high concentrations of zinc are found in semen, so if you want to get pregnant, you MUST have adequate zinc!
- Sense of taste and smell-- If you do a simple Zinc Test and do not get an immediate nasty bitter taste in your mouth, then you, my friend are zinc deficient. The vast majority of clients I test are zinc deficient in fact! About 1 in 100 people have a mild bitter taste after a few seconds, but few pass the immediate taste test! Another method for analyzing the saturation of your tissues with zinc is a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, which will measure the levels of 37 minerals in your body, including heavy metals. Contact me for either test.
So, where do we find zinc in our diets? Here is a list of 26 Foods That Are High in Zinc. But even if you eat zinc-rich foods to acquire the 2-13mg RDA for zinc (depending on age, gender, and if you are pregnant or lactating), you may still find yourself deficient. Phytic acid and calcium inhibit assimilation of zinc, but rather than avoiding grains and legumes, increase your zinc instead! And if you still do not experience immediate bitterness when doing the Zinc Test, then supplement with not only zinc but with all 90 essential nutrients!
Contact me to learn more, and meanwhile, download Pre-Pregnancy Health Tips: Getting Your Body Healthy BEFORE Baby for FREE to learn more about what you can do to ensure a healthy baby. More than anything, to have a healthy baby,
L’chaim-- To Life!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Use of folic acid for prevention of spina bifida and other neural tube defects—1983–1991. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 1991, 40, 513–516.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations for the use of folic acid to reduce the number of cases of spina bifida and other neural tube defects. MMWR Recomm. Rep. 1992, 41, 1–7.
Institute of Medicine. Folate. In Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline; National Academy Press: Washington, DC, USA, 1998; pp. 196–305.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann. Intern. Med. 2009, 150, 626–631.