In the News
Vitamin D Deficiency during Pregnancy May Increase Risk of MS in Children
Children of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy appeared to be at greater risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) in adulthood, according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology.
While elevated levels of vitamin D have been associated with a decreased risk of MS in adulthood, some previous research also has suggested that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for MS in later life.
Kassandra L. Munger, ScD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors examined whether serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels in early pregnancy were associated with the risk of MS in children.
The authors identified 193 individuals (163 of them female) with a diagnosis of MS whose mothers were part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort and matched 176 case patients with 326 control participants for comparison.
The majority of maternal blood samples (70 percent) to measure 25(OH)D levels had been collected during the first trimester and the average maternal vitamin D levels were in the insufficient vitamin D range.
The risk of MS as an adult was 90-percent higher in children of mothers who were vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D levels less than 12.02 ng/mL) compared with the children of mothers who were not vitamin D deficient, according to the results.
The authors note that two prior studies examining the association between 25(OH)D levels in pregnancy/early life did not find an association with future MS risk in children. In the current study, the authors note a few limitations, including that maternal 25(OH)D levels during pregnancy are not a direct measure of the 25(OH)D levels to which the developing fetus is exposed.
The study concludes that "while our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of 25(OH)D sufficiency. Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of 25(OH)D are needed."
The obesity crisis is taking its toll on the liver with potentially deadly consequences.
The obesity crisis is taking its toll on the liver with potentially deadly consequences. Research shows that 1 in 4 Canadians may be affected by liver disease due primarily to the rapidly rising prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease linked to obesity, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits. This progressive disease is predicted to overtake hepatitis C as the leading cause of liver transplants.
"Many people still believe that all liver disease is alcohol related," says Dr. Eric Yoshida, Chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation's Medical Advisory Committee. "With the prevalence of non-alcoholic liver disease however, the odds of anyone, including adults and children, being affected by liver disease are in the same realm as health conditions like heart disease or diabetes that Canadians are far more familiar with."
A review of current liver disease data reveals that as much as 20 percent of the Canadian population has fat build-up in their livers. 'Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease' or NAFLD is a term used for the condition that varies in severity from simple fat accumulation with no inflammation to its most advanced stage that involves inflammation and fibrosis. From this advanced stage, a person can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
"A diet full of sugar, high calorie and high fat foods can lead to excess fat being stored in the liver," explains Dr. Yoshida. "This fat build-up might never impact the functioning of the liver but it is the first step toward what could be a life-threatening condition."
If left unchecked, NAFLD has the potential to develop into cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
"NAFLD is already having an impact on the demand for liver transplants but what few realize is that it is also affecting the supply," explains Dr. Yoshida. "Too much fat in a donor liver can mean that that organ cannot be used for a transplant. This means it is making the organ shortage even worse and we are losing out on the opportunity to save more lives."
The good news is that NAFLD can often be prevented, or even reversed, if it is detected before permanent liver damage has occurred.
The Canadian Liver Foundation is alarmed by the dramatic change in liver disease statistics and wants to alert the public about their increasing level of risk. "When you bring up the topic of liver disease, it doesn't take long for someone to say how it has personally affected them or someone they know," says Gary Fagan, Canadian Liver Foundation president. "Ten years ago we said that 1 in 10 Canadians were at risk but when you factor in the rise of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease along with prevalence rates for hepatitis B and C, alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune liver diseases, children's liver diseases, liver cancer, and more, we are now looking at 1 in 4. The numbers show liver disease is relevant to everyone. People can't ignore it any longer."
March is Liver Health Month and the Canadian Liver Foundation is using this opportunity to encourage Canadians to consider how close liver disease might be to them and those they love and to find out how to get involved in helping themselves and others. The public can view the video and visit www.liver.ca/tooclose4comfort to learn the facts about liver disease, the stories behind it and to join in the CLF's awareness efforts by posting photos on the CLF's Facebook and Twitter accounts with the hashtag #tooclose4comfort to share their own stories of how liver disease has affected them.
About the Canadian Liver Foundation
Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of all liver disease. Today, we are bringing liver research to life by promoting liver health, improving public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raising funds for research and providing support to individuals affected by liver disease.
Emerson Ecologics Expands into a New Western Distribution Center
Emerson Ecologics, LLC recently announced their expansion and move into a new, larger facility for western distribution in Riverside, California. At 50,000 square feet, this new facility increases their operational capacity by over 200 percent, providing the space and capability to expand customer access to a greater product offering, continuously improve delivery service levels, and ultimately grow with their customers' needs.
"We are pleased to be expanding our operations in Riverside, California. Only a short distance from our original location, our new distribution center is a strong commitment to our California team as well as an important stride in our goal to provide industry leading product selection and customer service levels," said Kevin Purcell, Chief Operating Officer at Emerson Ecologics. "The Riverside Community has been exceptionally welcoming, and we look forward to our continued shared growth."
An enthusiastic audience of local government officials and industry leaders joined the Emerson Ecologics team for a much anticipated ribbon cutting ceremony. Cindy Roth, President and CEO of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce greeted local officials including: City of Riverside Mayor Representative, Frank Arreola; City of Perris Mayor, Daryl Busch; Riverside City Councilman, Andy Melendrez; California State Senator Richard Roth Representative, Tyler Madary; City of Moreno Valley Councilman, Jesse Molina; and City of Morena Valley Mayor Pro Tem, Jeffrey Giba; as well as local business leaders including representatives from the Riverside Chambers of Commerce and the March Joint Powers Authority. After a presentation of Certificates of Recognition, Andy Greenwalt, President and CEO of Emerson Ecologics, recognized the tremendous efforts of the Emerson's distribution, customer support, medical education, and technology team members during the move and thanked the local community for all of their support.
As the industry-leading distribution partner, Emerson Ecologics has had an operational presence in both the East and West for many years, and the opening of this new west coast facility follows their recent expansion and VAWD certification in their East Coast distribution center. Together, these investments solidify their commitment to building a best-in-class supply chain to serve integrative health practitioners, with on-time and accurate delivery of the highest quality professional vitamins, supplements, and personal care products.
For more information, visit www.emersonecologics.com.
New Diagnostic Test for Zika Virus
MD Biosciences, Inc. Clinical and Diagnostic Services Laboratory announced the release of its rapid assay to detect the virus in human blood and urine samples. The nucleic acid test can be performed in a few hours in blood, plasma, serum, or urine samples. The test is specific for the Zika virus and was shown not to cross react with other infectious viruses such as Dengue, West Nile, or Chikunguya. The laboratory-developed test is available now.
The World Health Organization states that the spread of the mosquito-borne virus will grow explosively throughout the Americas. According to the CDC, the virus has also been shown to be transmitted through sexual contact. Upwards of four million infections are expected in the region. Close to 80 percent of infections are asymptomatic while others suffer from fever, rash, joint aches, and other hallmarks. A steep increase in birth defects and Guillain-Barre syndrome has correlated to the spread of the virus. The explosive spread of the virus, along with major crowd and traveller-related events such as this year's Olympic Games in Brazil, have created the need for steps in fighting the virus, including the ability to rapidly and specifically identify the infection.
Eddie Moradian, Chief Executive Officer at MD Biosciences states, "We are extremely proud of our CLIA diagnostics laboratory's ability to provide a reliable, accurate, and rapid method of testing for Zika virus. This demonstrates our commitment in placing our expertise, knowledge, and infrastructure for the betterment of health, in the US and throughout the world, whether through the development of more advanced diagnostics or by advancing newer, better, and more efficient therapies."
About MD Biosciences, Inc.
MD Biosciences is a leading provider of clinical and preclinical services with over 25 years of experience in the clinical diagnostics and preclinical research areas. Services are provided for cancer, inflammatory, metabolic, and neurological diseases. MD Biosciences laboratories provide extensive experience in working with biomarkers and developing validated laboratory assays. MD Biosciences operates through its facilities and laboratories in the United States, Switzerland, and Israel.
Located in Saint Paul, MN, MD Biosciences' Clinical and Diagnostic Services Laboratory is a CLIA accredited laboratory for high complexity testing. All testing is performed under stringent guidelines in state of the art laboratories.