Randy Engel
Michael Fund researcher opens door to Down syndrome fetal therapies
By Randy Engel
March 9, 2014


It is my honor and privilege, as the co-founder and Executive Director of the Michael Fund to announce a major breakthrough in prenatal therapies designed to improve the intellectual and physical development of unborn children with Down syndrome, with potential positive applications for unborn children everywhere.

For more than thirty-five years, the Pittsburgh-based International Foundation for Genetic Research, popularly known as the Michael Fund, has been funding prolife genetic research in the field of Down syndrome and related chromosomal disorders. Its creation in 1978 was motivated by the growing threat of eugenic abortion of unborn children suspected of carrying genes associated with a particular genetic disorder, most especially, Down syndrome.

In 1994, following the death of Dr. Jerome Lejeune of the University of Paris, the first Director of Medical Research for the IFGR/Michael Fund, the foundation moved its research program back to the United States. Three years later, the research program was placed under the direction of prolife obstetrician-gynecologist and geneticist, Dr. Paddy Jim Baggot of Los Angeles.

I am proud to state that the hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial support for the Michael Fund has come almost entirely from prolife donors and organizations and parents and relatives of children born with Down syndrome. The exemplary efforts of Dr. Baggot and the Board of Directors and staff of the Michael Fund stand in sharp contrast to the "Health by Death" ethic embraced by the Anti-Life Establishment.

The following press release on new avenues of Down syndrome research is reproduced with the kind permission of Jane Orient, M.D., Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Dr. Baggot's Fetal Therapy for Down Syndrome: Report of Three Cases and a Review of the Literature is available online at http://www.jpands.org/vol19no1/baggot.pdf. Dr. Baggot's original research papers have appeared in prominent medical scientific journals including Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy, and The Internet Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

I hope that Renew America readers will visit the Michael Fund at www.michaelfund.org and make a much needed tax-deductible donation to enable us to carry through with our clinical trials which are in the early stages of development.

Dr. Baggot can be reached for interviews and consultations at pjbaggot@hotmail.com. Additional information on the Michael Fund is available from yours truly at rvte61@comcast.net.

Brain Development in Down Syndrome May Be Enhanced, Doctor Suggests

TUCSON, Ariz., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Genetic diseases are generally thought to be untreatable, but the underlying mechanisms are biochemical and thus can possibly be modified, writes Los Angeles obstetrician P.J. Baggot, M.D., in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Down syndrome results from an extra copy of chromosome 21 (trisomy 21), and thus three copies of each gene instead of two. Either excess or deficiency of various factors can have a detrimental effect on brain development, which involves both proliferation of nerve cells and selective pruning.

Baggot provides three case reports of mothers who attempted to enhance their babies' brain development both before and after birth. They used nutritional supplements, including high-dose vitamins, and stimulation through music and reading aloud.

Four babies (one set of twins) were born lacking typical facial features of Down syndrome, despite confirmation of the diagnosis through chromosome typing.

Intellectual development far exceeded expectations. One child at 34 months met some speech milestones for four-year-olds. A video demonstrated a 17-month infant reading and responding with gestures. A second video showed a 23-month infant reading aloud from flash cards. A third video showed a newborn crawling on the third day of life. These achievements would be admirable in children without Down syndrome.

Previously, six randomized controlled trials showed no benefit from multivitamins in Down syndrome. However, treatments were limited in duration and given late in development; most had no patients under age five. According to Baggot's "five-square" developmental enhancement paradigm, it may have been too late.

"In development, timing is everything," Baggot writes. A valid treatment given too late may have no detectable effect. But correction of nutrient deficiencies earlier, even prior to conception, may have effects years or decades later. Intrauterine factors may have a bearing on adult diseases at ages 60 to 80.

There is now a mouse model for Down syndrome, Baggot writes. The Ts65Dn mouse is trisomic for most of the genes found on human chromosome 21. It has physiologic, anatomic, and functional impairments similar to those in human Down syndrome. Prenatal and postnatal biochemical treatment and environmental stimulation have led to behavioral and cognitive improvement, as well as brain growth and more neural connections.

The replication, survival, and organization of brain cells can be enhanced in many ways, Baggot concludes. "Case reports suggest that several nutrients and drugs are promising. Experiments with mouse models may lead to effective treatments. Proper timing of treatment is crucial."

Importantly, "better understanding of brain development could benefit all children, not just those with Down syndrome."

The Journal is the official, peer-reviewed publication of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.

© Randy Engel


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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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