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SIDS may be a Complication of Acute Infantile Scurvy


  • Some History

Scurvy has been known for centuries.  Dr. James Lind, a Scottish physician working in the British Naval Service in 1747, conducted his now-famous experiments that showed citrus fruits to be a cure for scurvy.  In 1753 he wrote A Treatise on Scurvy.  Here is a quote from him from 1757 concerning scorbutic (suffering from a vitamin C deficiency) patients:

    "Persons that appear to be but slightly scorbutic are apt to be suddenly and unexpectedly seized with some of its worst symptoms.  Their dropping down dead upon an exertion of their strength or change of air is not easily foretold."

Doesn't this sound chillingly like SIDS?

The Ascorbate Historical Reference Page contains a reprint of an article, SUDDEN DEATH IN INFANTS WITH SCURVY by Richard H. Follis, Jr., M.D. from the Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics, the Johns Hopkins Medical School dated 1942.  It discusses there cases of infant death that came "suddenly".  This article also points to the link between vitamin C deficiency and Sudden Infant Death.

Dr. Archie Kalokerinos wrote a book, Every Second Child, that describes his work in Australia with Vitamin C and SIDS.  He treated Aboriginal women and their babies, a very high-risk group for SIDS.

The results of his work showed that not a single baby under his care died of SIDS!  He feels that SIDS is a reaction to what he calls acute infantile scurvy.  If you are an expectant mother, or plan to be one, it is vital that you supplement your diet with adequate Vitamin C. If a baby comes under a significant stress load, its body stores of vitamin C are used up quickly leaving a serious amd potenially life-threatening situation. It is thought that vaccinations may present an adequate stress to provoke this reaction of sudden death, which is not limited to newborns.

Dr. Frederick Klenner of North Carolina had mother's take 5-15 grams per day of vitamin C during both pregnancy and the nursing period.  None of the babies in his care ever died of SIDS (see his explanation below).  Please see Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine article The Answer to Crib Death for more on both these doctors work.

Your baby's dependence obviously continues during the nursing period.  If you plan to use a commercial formula, I strongly recommend that you mix Vitamin C powder in the formula to increase your babies Vitamin C intake.

To figure out how to do this, you might shoot for a Vitamin C level of around 50mg/bottle.  If your baby drinks ten bottles a day, that would work out to 500mg/day, which would be fine.  You will need to be sensitive to how much your baby can tolerate.

As an example, if you buy canisters of powder, figure out how many "bottles" are in a canister.  Multiply this number by 50.  This will tell you how much C to add to the canister.  Since vitamin C powder contains about 5000mg per teaspoon, divide your last figure by 5000 and this is the number of measuring teaspoons of C to mix into your dry formula.

I know you must be asking how the link between SIDS and vitamin C could be possible when the SIDS groups never talk about this possibility.  Please visit Oscar Falconi's page S.I.D.S for his interesting experience in this matter.  Also, please visit Dr. Kalokerinosí discussion of the SIDS situation at WHY A SATISFACTORY SOLUTION TO THE SIDS HAS NOT BEEN FOUND.

  • New Study Finds Possible Heart Problem Link

Reports in the news recently (June, 1998) link at least some SIDS cases to a heart problem.  The problem is in the heartís electrical system, which tells the heart how and when to beat.  The researchers have found a problem that may occur and possibly cause the deaths of 50% of SIDS cases.  This is a very important finding that may help drop the incidence of SIDS.  The plan is to identify, with ultrasound, those newborns that exhibit the heartbeat indicating this problem and medicating them until they grow out of it.

The Vitamin C deficiency link to SIDS discussed above is not inconsistent with this new finding.  On the Heart Failure page I discuss the nutrients that have a major affect on a healthy heart, among them vitamin C.  It is entirely possible that adequate nutrition could lessen the effects of this heart problem to the extent that it is less often, or even rarely, fatal.

All new parents can make sure their babies are getting adequate levels of important nutrients, levels that may be lacking in "formula".  This would be especially important for babies diagnosed with this potentially fatal problem and those that arenít too.  The best thing about nutritional therapy is that it does not need to be chosen instead of any medical approach.  It is a necessary component of health. 

  • Medical Profession Still Baffled

An article published April 23, 2001 at Healthcentral.com entitled "Cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome remains elusive" states:

"Despite decades of research, scientists remain confounded. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome steals more small lives each year than cancer, pneumonia, heart disease and AIDS combined."

This points out to me that maybe supplementing with vitamin C, which will only do good things, should be promoted by the convential medical community even without all the desired studies.

  • Pregnancy and Newborns

We all need a lot of vitamin C for optimum health.  The more stress our bodies are exposed to, the more C is used to maintain equilibrium (see Homeostasis, under What C Does).  Pregnancy is undoubtedly a considerable stress, even the RDA recognizes this.  In addition to the added stress on the mother, let us not forget that a pregnant woman is indeed eating for two.  After birth, breast-feeding infants are totally dependant on their mother's diet for their own nutrition.  I recommend people that feed their infants a bottle that even then their diets should be supplemented with vitamin C, more than is in "formula" (see the SIDS page).

Women taking large-dose vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy will have fewer complications, easier child-birth, fewer, smaller stretch marks and, most important healthier babies.  Babies getting vitamin C supplementation will have fewer, less serious illnesses, will be much less likely to have colic and may be less likely to fall victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

  • Primary and lasting benefits in pregnancy. (reprinted from Dr. Klenners' paper on his clinical experiences)

Observations made on over 300 consecutive obstetrical cases using supplemental ascorbic acid, by mouth, convinced me that failure to use this agent in sufficient amounts in pregnancy borders on malpractice. The lowest amount of ascorbic acid used was 4 grams and the highest amount 15 grams each day. (Remember the rat-no stress manufactures equivalent "C" up to 4 grams and with stress up to 15.2 grams). Requirements were roughly 4 grams first trimester, 6 grams second trimester and 10 grams third trimester.  Approximately 20 percent required 15 grams, each day, during last trimester. Eighty percent of this series received a booster injection of 10 grams, intravenously, on admission to the hospital. Hemoglobin levels were much easier to maintain. Leg cramps were less than three percent and always was associated with "getting out" of Vitamin C tablets. Striae gravidarum was seldom encountered and when it was present there existed an associated problem of too much eating and too little walking. The capacity of the skin to resist the pressure of an expanding uterus will also vary in different individuals. Labor was shorter and less painful. There were no postpartum hemorrhages. The perineum was found to be remarkably elastic and episiotomy was performed electively. Healing was always by first intention and even after 15 and 20 years following the last child the firmness of the perineum is found to be similar to that of a primigravida in those who have continued their daily supplemental vitamin C. No patient required catheterization. No toxic manifestations were demonstrated in this series.  There was no cardiac stress even though 22 patients of the series had rheumatic hearts. One patient in particular was carried through two pregnancies without complications. She had been warned by her previous obstetrician that a second pregnancy would terminate with a maternal death.  She received no ascorbic acid with her first pregnancy. This lady has been back teaching school for the past 10 years. She still takes 10 grams of ascorbic acid daily. Infants born under massive ascorbic acid therapy were all robust. Not a single case required resuscitation. We experienced no feeding problems. The Fultz quadruplets were in this series. They took milk nourishment on the second day. These babies were started on 50 mg ascorbic acid the first day and, of course, this was increased as time went on. Our only nursery equipment was one hospital bed, an old, used single unit hot plate and an equally old 10 quart kettle. Humidity and ascorbic acid tells this story. They are the only quadruplets that have survived in southeastern United States. Another case of which I am justly proud is one in which we delivered 10 children to one couple. All are healthy and good looking. There were no miscarriages. All are living and well. They are frequently referred to as the vitamin C kids, in fact all of the babies from this series were called "Vitamin C Babies" by the nursing personnel--they were distinctly different.


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