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Free Radicals: Emerging Challenge in Environmental Health Research in Childhood and Neonatal Disorders

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Author(s): B. Sharda

Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
ISSN 1660-4601

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 286;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Free radicals | antioxidants | malnutrition | environmental health | hypoxia

ABSTRACT
Infants and children may undergo severe oxidative stress due to disease state, pre-existing nutritional status, frequent use of oxygen, and lower levels of antioxidant defenses. Antioxidant defenses, made up of intracellular and extra-cellular components, work synergistically to prevent oxidative damage. Total antioxidant activity (TAA) was analyzed by method of ferric reducing antioxidant power assay (FRAP). Patients admitted in Pediatric Dept, RNT Medical College, Udaipur, India were selected for these studies. TAA level in neonates with hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy (HIE) stage III and in poor outcome cases was significantly low. Erythrocyte SOD activity level was low in pre-term neonates. TAA level in severely malnourished children at the time of hospital admission was low. This low antioxidant level in severely malnourished children could be multi-factorial viz. low zinc, selenium, vitamin A and C deficiency, recurrent infections, elevated free iron and chronic starvation stage. Delayed recovery of oxidant injury may lead to delayed incomplete recovery at cellular level. In a study of 29 tuberculosis patients TAA level was found to be low in tubercular patients compared with control. TAA level decreased more in CNS tuberculosis compared with other system tuberculosis. In a study of nutritional tremor syndrome TAA, ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol levels were low during pre-tremor phase compared with tremor phase (ATS). Pre-term neonates have incompletely developed antioxidant defenses and are deficient in vitamin E, which is normally derived from maternal circulation at the end of 3rd trimester. Therefore, decreased TAA level in HIE with poor outcome indicates addition of antioxidants in therapeutic strategy. Since rise in TAA in antioxidant supplemented group of severely malnutrition children was higher with good outcome compared with nonsupplemented group it would be prudent to supplement antioxidant during nutritional management. These studies have shown that health benefits can be obtained by children with a reduced risk of disease from supplements of antioxidant nutrients. The amounts of optimal supplements in these disorders, whether pharmacologic or large, are to be determined. Further work is needed to show whether modest increases in nutrient intakes in children with these disorders will delay or prevent the complications and improve the outcome. Therefore, available evidence regarding health benefits to be achieved by supplementing antioxidant nutrients is encouraging. Free radical injury and antioxidant deficiency is more common than what we think. Severely malnourished children and children suffering from chronic infections and diseases are at several fold increased risk of antioxidant deficiency and likely to suffer from free radical injury. Appropriate interventions are required in reducing the risk associated with these observations.

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