By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Many people begin diets for a variety of reasons. This may include a keto diet. It might include a gluten free diet. It might include a vegan or vegetarian diet.

In some cases, they use that diet for the entire family. What they ignore is the fact that a growing child has very different nutritional needs than an adult does.

All of these diets are associated with a variety of nutritional deficiencies in children. Those deficiencies can have a significant impact on growth in a young child.

Keto diets are low in thiamine, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium and carnitine.

Vegetarian diets are low in Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc and protein.

Gluten free diets are low in thiamine, folate, cobalamin, Vitamin A, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium.

These diets can be used for children. For example, children with celiac disease require a gluten free diet. Children with seizures may do better on a ketogenic diet. Actually, the ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat seizures.

The problem is not necessarily the diet itself. The issue is more related to parents thinking that they know what a diet entails when they do not. 

Whenever a child is placed on one of these diets, some research is necessary. The exact foods need to be studied. The range of foods that need to be eaten needs to be studied. The supplements that need to be used must be studied.

It is not a situation where you can just wake up one day and decide to put your child on a diet. There are right ways and wrong ways to do it.

Nutrient deficiencies can cause acute problems. They can also cause long term problems as well. For example a too strict vegetarian diet can impair final height in boys.

Parents may have the best intentions in selecting a specific diet for their children. That is a good thing. However, any kind of diet has hidden consequences. It important to be aware of those ahead of time. It is important to provide the missing nutrients in some other fashion.

That will allow for the healthiest option for the child. It will also help the parent achieve the most desirable outcome.

COVID-19 update- Sussex County remained in the low zone again this past week. That suggests that we are continuing to see low hospitalization rates of COVID-19 patients in the county.

Number of new cases in Sussex County went from 266 to 112. Nationally new case numbers went from 261,000 to 236,000.

The news media has the sky falling over the current surge in Europe. Omicron was not the last surge any of us have seen. 

However, a surge in the total number of cases is no longer relevant. The severity of the illness is the current issue. There does not really seem to be a pattern of more severe disease with the current surge. Some countries are up and some are not.

If we see a new surge, we all know how to react personally. Vaccine is the best protection. Carrying hand sanitizer and using it before eating or touching your face is beneficial. Avoiding crowded indoor places for extended periods is wise. Wearing a mask to protect others if you have symptoms is useful. 

Getting diagnosed early in the course of the disease also allows some of the antiviral remedies to be prescribed while they are still effective. We all already know these things.

Last week Pfizer submitted a request to the FDA for emergency use authorization of a second booster dose for individuals over age 65. I looked at their data.

Most of it was based upon higher antibody levels after the second booster. As I have repeatedly said antibody levels only tell part of the story. They represent measurable immunity. The delayed immunity in our bodies is not measurable. It is the primary one that deals with infections after acute antibody titers have dropped.

Therefore, people have immunity to many diseases without measurable antibodies. What matters is whether the additional booster dose of COVID-19 offers any measurable protection against severe disease.

There has been only one study to suggest this. It was done in Israel. The numbers were small. It showed that individuals with a single booster dose had four severe infections per 100 infected people. The number dropped to 1.4 severe infections 12 days after the second booster dose.

However, that was based upon a total of 13 severe infections in 9,000 patients who had received the second booster. It is suggestive of benefit but by no means something to rave about. 

You might ask what is the harm in getting a second booster. The answer is probably nothing. However, basing decisions on 9,000 total patients may not show rare side effects from the additional dose.