• Why Reye’s Syndrome (Aspirin-Related Deaths Among Small Children Who Have Viral Infections) Prevailed From 1950-1980 And Then Suddenly Disappeared

    Posted September 18, 2011: by Bill Sardi

    Alternate Title: How A Two-Time Nobel Prize Winner Eradicated A Drug-Related Nutritional Deficiency And Saved Children’s Lives

    When you examine the labeling that accompanies a bottle of aspirin you will read a warning about the use of aspirin pills for young children to quell fever during viral infections which may result in a life-threatening condition called Reye’s Syndrome.

    The incidence of Reye’s Syndrome suddenly rose in the 1950s with advice to use aspirin to quell fevers but then suddenly disappeared in the 1980s without adequate explanation. With no obvious cause, physicians nebulously blamed it on inborn errors of metabolism at the time.

    Reye’s Syndrome cases are still reported today, but not in the numbers reported decades ago.

    Cases of Reye’s Syndrome can be fatal even among children as old as 12-years of age. The mortality rate is 30-40% of cases. Pediatricians now recommend ibuprofen or more often acetaminophen(Tylenol) instead of aspirin, though Tylenol is a liver toxin that depletes glutathione, a key antioxidant.

    Even today the cause of Reye’s Syndrome stumps the best medical investigators, who say it “hypothetically may result from an unusual response to a preceding viral infection,” but concede that the “rise and fall in the incidence of Reye’s Syndrome is still poorly understood and unexplained.”

    The disappearance of Reye’s syndrome was called a public health triumph in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1999. Aspirin was detected in blood samples of 82% of Reye’s Syndrome children. Aspirin bottles were labeled with the warning about Reye’s Syndrome in 1986. After a 1980 peak of 555 cases in children was reported, there have been no more than 36 cases per year since 1987. But it appears modern medicine was the cause and not the cure for this deadly syndrome.

    An inquisitive investigation documented in the British Medical Journal in 2009 reported on a computer analysis of the numerous symptoms associated with Reye’s Syndrome with other diagnoses. This analysis came up with a strong relationship between Reye’s Syndrome and scurvy– vitamin C deficiency.

    That report cited a 1957 report in the Canadian Medical Association Journalwhich showed that aspirin combined with a viral infection leads to depletion of vitamin C in some subjects.

    Depletion of vitamin C by aspirin is overlooked by modern medicine and this writer traced the many millions of deaths that occurred in the 1922 Spanish flu pandemic to the over-use of aspirin at that time, which induced vitamin C deficiency and likely paralyzed the immune systems of infected individuals.

    While aspirin-induced vitamin C deficiency may be an underlying cause of Reye’s Syndrome, this still does not explain why this syndrome vanished in the 1980s.

    A more careful look at a timeline of events surrounding the era of 1950-1980 shows that Reye’s Syndrome cases were in clear decline long prior to the warnings on aspirin labels. There were news reports cautioning parents on the use of aspirin that preceded the precautionary labeling, but as you can see for yourself, two steep declines in Reye’s reported cases closely correlate with the publication of two popular books about vitamin C by two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling. The publication of his two books, Vitamin C And The Common Cold (1970) and Cancer & Vitamin C (1980) caused vitamin C intake to rise many fold at that time and eventually led to much higher-dose vitamin C pills on store shelves. 10228187

    reye syndrome chart

    More Than Vitamin C

    The pursuit of the causes of Reye’s Syndrome does not stop with vitamin C. The 1999 New England Journal of Medicine report also showed a strong seasonal effect for Reye’s cases in the winter months for children under 18 and under 5 years of age. That report also showed a strong relationship between Reye’s cases and dark skin – among African Americans.

    reye syndrome chart: Month of onset

    This strongly suggests that a typical seasonal vitamin D deficiency is associated with Reye’s syndrome as blacks have much lower vitamin D levels due to their highly pigmented skin (most vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure and not the diet).

    It is well known that an enzyme deficiency (3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase) is associated with Reye’s-like Syndromes. Further investigation reveals a shortage of vitamin D, prevalent in winter months, particularly among blacks, can result in a deficiency of this very same enzyme.

    Cases of Reye’s Syndrome are reported which do not involve ingestion of aspirin, which suggests the vitamin deficiency origin of this deadly syndrome.

    If modern medicine were to take it blinders off towards nutritional medicine, many lives would be saved. Why can’t physicians understand that reducing fever in young children blunts the immune response which can have mortal consequences? Any evidence that the need for vitamins exceeds that of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is rejected outright by modern medicine. The RDA is the war-line between those who advocate nutritional medicine and those who continue to doggedly practice medicine as if every disease were a drug deficiency.

    – © 2011 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc. Not for posting on other websites.

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