SRINAGAR: Medical researchers in Kashmir have found that Vitamin B1 deficiency is leading to brain dysfunction and deaths among infants, raising suspicion that foods we consume are lacking this vital ingredient.
Three researches carried out by pediatricians here found answers to some of the unexplained symptoms noticed among newborns that lead to cardiac problems.
Children with these problems have responded well to Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) therapy. However, if untreated or under diagnosed, the deficiency could have fatal consequences.
Dr Umar Amin Qureshi, who has led these studies, told Kashmir Reader that Thiamine deficiency in infants has been found in regions that consume polished rice.
“Polished rice is staple diet in Kashmir. It could be one of the reasons that infantile beriberi affects infants breast-fed by women,” he said.
Dr Umar said the studies revealed that in most of the cases studied, mothers consumed rice that had been washed thoroughly. Many mothers, he said, were habitual of straining the boiled rice, which led to the loss of this water soluble vitamin.
An interesting finding of the research is that it is the mothers who actually are lack this vitamin and the breast-fed baby therefore gets none of it.
The research has concluded that infants at risk, who are breast-fed only, should be given Thiamine immediately if they develop acute lactic acidosis.
The latest study titled ‘Thiamine Responsive Acute Life Threatening Metabolic Acidosis in Exclusively Breast-fed Infants’ was carried out by pediatricians from GB Pant Hospital in collaboration with allied faculties.
The study found that the affected infants responded to Thiamine doses within hours and their heart rates also normalized.
The study also noted that follow-up examination of such patients has revealed that their neurodevelopment was normal.
Leading pediatrician and Principal GMC Dr Kaiser Ahmad, who was a part of this research, termed the finding significant for explaining some of the underlying causes of sudden ailments arising in infants, with doctors now able to treat such patients effectively.
He said that even though affluence in society has improved our food intake, the findings have revealed that we still lack some of the key elements in our food which are vital for brain development.
“We receive a good number of Thiamine deficient cases at hospitals and infants need hospitalisation in case of deficiency,” he said.
The deficiency of this vitamin among adults has been traditionally linked to the disease called beriberi, first established by Dutch physician Christiaan Eijkman in 1897.
British doctors in India had established that beriberi in India is caused by the consumption of polished rice.