My Interview about Rear Facing Car Seats being Safer Until Age Two

The Parents Journal

My interview on The Parents’ Journal with Bobbi Conner about “Rear-facing Car Seats being safer until Age Two” is being featured on public radio stations nationwide this week. 

Next week (one week following the Public radio broadcast) the interview will be featured on The Parents Journal Podcast, which can be accessed through The Parents Journal website, so that everyone (world-wide) can listen!

Last edited by Dr.Vee on July 27, 2009

Novel Influenza A H1N1 Virus Has Bird, Pig and Human Components

Scientis Electron Microscopeflying pigs

Here is my article in Suite 101 on how the current novel Influenza A H1N1 viral strain developed with pig, bird and human genetic components. We are in Pandemic stage 6, meaning infections have been documented on all continents around the world. The infection is considered of moderate severity by the World Health Organization.

Bird, Human, Pig

Last updated July 27, 2009 by Dr. Vee

H1N1 “Swine Flu” Vaccine

h1n1vaccineLab Worker H1N1






Here is a link to my article on Suite 101 about the Vaccine being developed for prevention of Influenza A H1N1 “Swine Flu”

Last updated July 27, 2009 by Dr. Vee

Probiotics, Prebiotics and Symbiotics

Probiotics playing Golf

In 2002, a joint statement published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) defined probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Most commercially available probiotic products are strains of Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus bacteria or Saccharomyces yeast. Lactobacillus caseii rhamnous GG (Whew! Fortunately abbreviated as LGG) is the most extensively studied bacterial probiotic.

Prebiotics are substances (such as certain carbohydrate sugars) that are not digested, and when they reach the large intestine, they stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Breast milk has a large supply of healthy prebiotic carbohydrates. Symbiotics are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics.

GI Tract


The Gut–Where Probiotics work

When a baby is born, there are no bacteria in the colon. However, shortly after birth, bacteria start living (colonizing) in the large intestine. Breastfed babies have different bacteria (flora) than formula fed babies, which experts hypothesize may contribute to the fewer diarrheal illnesses experienced by breastfed babies. Formula fed babies tend to colonize more harmful strains of bacteria as normal residents of the colon. In certain circumstances, the harmful bacteria can cause problems.

Probiotics show promising positive effects in certain gastrointestinal and allergic diseases. Probiotics and Diarrheal Illnesses Probiotics show benefit in people who have a mild to moderate case of a stomach virus. They also help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Various over the counter Saccharomyces and Lactobacilli supplements are available to treat these types of diarrhea. Evidence suggests that probiotics need to be taken early in the course of diarrhea in order to be effective.

Bifidobacterium has been shown to have some effect in preventing relapses of ulcerative colitis in adults.


Probiotics and Colic


Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown to be highly effective in treating colic in babies. In fact, Lactobacillus reuteri worked better than the anti-gas drops that are the most often used medication to treat infantile colic.

There has been a great deal of research on probiotics and allergic illnesses. Studies have shown that LGG given to pregnant women and infants (in breast milk or LGG supplemented formula) may reduce the development or severity of eczema related to cow’s milk allergy in children.

Fluorescent green probiotics

Every spring, hay fever suffers search for a new way to treat their runny noses, sinus congestion and itchy eyes. Unfortunately, the evidence to date suggests that probiotics do not help prevent or treat seasonal allergic rhinitis or environmental allergies such as to pet dander.

Probiotics Cautions

Remember, probiotics are live bacteria, and they should be taken with the same precautions as any medicine or supplement. The risks and benefits of ingesting live bacterial or yeast cultures should be weighed carefully. Caution must be exercised with the use of probiotics in immunocompromised patients (patients with cancer or immune system defects). Consult your physician before using any probiotic.

Probiotics are not regulated by FDA

So why are probiotics more effective than say, plain old yogurt? Probiotics contain much larger amount of bacteria (over 108 microorganisms per gram of supplement) than yogurt. Remember, though, probiotics are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and studies have shown significant variability in the number of colony forming units available in various probiotic formulations.

Reference: Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization Joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on evaluation of health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live lactic acid bacteria, FAO/WHO Report No. 10-1-2001.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider. The author is not providing personal medical opinion, diagnosis or course of treatment. Do not delay or substitute this information for medical treatment.

Bad Bacteria Cartoon

Last updated August 22, 2009 by Dr. Vee

Vitamin D Deficiency in Children and Adolescents


milk vitamin DRecent studies show an alarming lack of vitamin D, also called cholecalciferol, in American children and adolescents.

Vitamin D is important for the development of strong bones. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets (weak, deformed bones) in infants and children. It also contributes to osteoporosis(thinning of the bones) in post-menopausal women. Vitamin D deficiency may also contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers, although no definite causal link has been proven.

Vitamin D Made in the Skin from Sunlight

Vitamin D is available to the body in two different ways. Sun exposure helps the skin make vitamin D.  Ultraviolet B (UVB) waves help formation of vitamin D in the skin, but UVB rays are also responsible for the burning effects of the sun.

Not surprisingly, vitamin D deficiency is more common in northern parts of the country, where there is less sunlight. Melanin, the pigment in the skin, as well as sunblock applied to skin, can decrease the absorption of vitamin D. The more melanin in the skin, the darker the pigment of the skin, and the less vitamin D that is absorbed.

Regular application of sunblock to the skin will also decrease absorption of sun.  The American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend stopping the use of sunblock to allow the absorption of vitamin D, since the ultraviolet B rays can increase the risk of skin cancers.

Vitamin D can be Absorbed in the Stomach

200 IU (international units) of vitamin D is the daily recommended intake of vitamin D in children and adolescents. Post-menopausal women should have at least 400 IU a day to prevent thinning of the bones. Many experts feel that this recommendation is too conservative, and that post-menopausal women need at least 1000 IU daily to prevent/treat osteoporosis.

vitamin D sources

Fish, vegetables, and milk and cereal fortified with vitamin D are all good sources of vitamin D. However, a child would have to drink the equivalent of half a liter of milk a day to get recommended amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because it helps the absorption of calcium by the gut.

Vitamin D is Converted into 25 Hydroxyvitamin D, 25 (OH) D (Calcidiol)

Once vitamin D is absorbed by the skin or in the stomach, it is converted to a molecule called 25 hydroxyvitamin D (shortened as 25 (OH) D or calcidiol), in the liver. Although it is not routinely checked, 25 (OH) D can be measured by a blood test. 25 (OH) D is then converted to another molecule in the kidney. So it is not surprising that children and adults with kidney failure are prone to severe thinning of the bone. Vitamin D is then stored in the fat in the body once it is converted by the liver and kidney.

Vitamin D Deficiency is Common in Children and Adolescents

Currently, a level of < 11 ng/ml is defined as vitamin D deficiency. Many experts feel that this threshold is too low, and that the negative effects of vitamin D deficiency on bones can occur at levels of 20 ng/l or higher. A number of studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is more common than previously thought. Three main factors play a role in vitamin D deficiency in children and adolescents: race, gender and body-mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity). Girls are twice as likely as boys to have vitamin D deficiency. Darker pigmented children are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. 25 (OH) D levels decrease as BMI (weight) increases.

The Highest Rate of 25 (OH) D Deficiency is Seen in Overweight African American Adolscents

In the United States, up to 2 % of all children have levels of 25 (OH) D less than 11 ng/ml, and 14 % have less than 20 ng/ml. Even more concerning, 11-50 % of African American teenagers in the United States may have 25 hydroxy D deficiency (depending on how deficiency is defined). This is a startling statistic. In one study, African American adolescents were found to be twenty times as likely as Caucasion adolescents to have vitamin D deficiency. The risk of vitamin D deficiency in Hispanic and Asian adolescents is also higher than in Caucasions. Being overweight increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency by 75 %. The highest rate of 25 (OH) deficiency is seen in overweight African American adolescent girls.

Letter D on Plate

Vitamin D Supplementation in the Diet

It is unclear how vitamin D deficiency in adolescents will affect health when they become adults. Interestingly, in post-menopausal women, thin Caucasians are at highest risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. It seems prudent to maximize food intake of vitamin D or to consider taking a vitamin D supplement if not enough vitamin D is consumed in the diet. In the future, it may be useful to measure 25 (OH) D levels in high risk adolescents.


Saintonge, Sandy, Bang, Heejung, Gerber, Linda. Implications of a New Definition of Vitamin D Deficiency in a Multiracial US Adolescent Population: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Pediatrics 2009; Vol. 123, Number 3: 797.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not substitute for medical advice from your healthcare provider. The author is not providing personal medical opinion, diagnosis or course of treatment. Do not delay or substitute this information for medical treatment if you have any medical concerns.

Updated January 6, 2011 by Dr. Vee