Friday, February 01, 2008

Interesting article I thought you would all be interested in

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080131111822.htm

6 comments:

Papa Doc and the Duke said...

Great article! This reinforces all that we learned after Ammon was born. Until he was born, I don't remember ever hearing a single thing about folic acid and the need to get on it. Some doctors even now don't think it's necessary but if one little in-expensive pill could prevent the problems Ammon has had, any price is worth it!
Mom

Jason said...

I agree with Mom. However, these data need to be viewed carefully. This study was based on women self-reporting their folate usage. This already biases the data. Not that the women are lying about their usage of folate, but that they know enough to take it in the first place. That means that your study group is going to consist of subjects that have disposable income to buy folate (although, as Mom pointed out, it is quite cheap), who see the need to take it (read somewhat intelligent), and as such are probably taking fairly good care of their bodies anyway. A more appropriate way to have done this study would be to do a randomized double blinded study. That means that a large group (thousands) of ethnically and economically diverse women would be separated randomly into two groups. One group would be given a placebo and the other folate. Neither the subject nor the researcher would know to which group the subject had been assigned (double blind). Data from a study like that would be a little more convincing. The lead author of the study, Radek Bukowski actually said, "in medicine, we usually do not see big differences like this." He's right. Usually when the statistics are this impressive it is because there is some experimental bias. Even the 1994 paper describing effects of folate on neural tube defects didn't have such impressive stats. But, it was a double blinded study involving over 4,000 women. As such, its conclusions were quite convincing. Enough so that the majority of physicians agree that folate is important in the prevention of neural tube defects.

Having said all that, I still think this will turn out to be an important piece of work. When it is peer-reviewed and published, I look forward to reading the methods and their final conclusions. So, sisters of mine, take your folate!

Mike and Adrianne said...

You brought up good points Jason. I had to take a research class in college and we talked about this stuff so you are right. But it is still interesting. And I do think it is important to take Folic Acid. I have to take 4 MG a night. Anyway, interesting article.

Papa Doc and the Duke said...

It's not just sisters that are supposed to take it but wives of brothers as well, especially since we have at least two (perhaps three) siblings in the family with Spina Bifida. Female in-laws should take the folic as well.
Good points, Jason. I believe I agree with you but until there is a better study as you describe, don't chance this -- if one little pill could have made such a difference in Ammon's life, then the pill isn't so little after all.
Mom

Mike and Adrianne said...

When Mike and I went to the genetic counselor (they make you see one before you get your level 2 ultra sound here) he said that for Spina Bifida to occur, both the mom and dad have to have the gene. Have you heard that before?

Jason said...

That is correct, Adrianne. Each of us have two copies of every gene - one from Mom and one from Dad. If each parent has at least one copy of the mutant gene, then their offspring have a 25% chance of developing Spina Bifida or whatever the disease. This is not true for every genetic condition. Some only require that the offspring inherit one mutant copy of the gene for the condition to occur.

I am not much of a genetist but the lab across the hall from mine is a genetics lab and I learn a bit from time to time. In actuality, there is much more to the expression of genetic diseases than what I have simply explained. Some cancers are genetically based but that doesn't mean that an individual with a known carcinogenic mutation will develop cancer.

Anyway, we have more snow today - at least 6 inches. I am anxiously waiting for spring.