Carnitine and pregnancy

The Swiss based company Lonza announced that a new study observed that supplementation with L-Carnitine during pregnancy can significantly reduce the increased level of plasma free fatty acids, which is considered the main cause of insulin resistance, a major factor in gestational diabetes in pregnant women. This company- supported study conducted at the University of Vienna (Austria) was published in Chemical Monthly 136, 1523- 1533 (2005).

Already by the 12th week of pregnancy, plasma L- Carnitine levels are significantly decreased, with a further reduction up to birth. This reduction of total L-Carnitine is mainly caused by a significant decrease of free L- Carnitine levels. Similar low levels of free L-Carnitine are only found in patients with a Carnitine deficiency.

Studies show a drop of carnitine blood levels from a normal of 39 umol/L to 22 by 11 – 15 weeks of pregnancy down to a very low 12 by the time of delivery. ie Carnitine levels in the expectant mother have halved in the first trimester of pregnancy and are one third of their starting levels by the end of the pregnancy. More recent studies also confirm this drop of carnitine levels in pregnancy. Any level from around 25 – 30 is considered carnitine deficient. Polio survivors and their descendents need levels of 50 + to alleviate fatigue.

Tessa Jupp has been recommending for years that any children/ grandchildren of polio survivors pregnant or contemplating pregnancy (male or female) should be taking carnitine supplementation up to 12 months prior to conception if possible and certainly through the pregnancy and while breastfeeding in order to avoid passing this problem on to successive generations. This is borne out with new information available on Epigenetics.

A child of a WA polio survivor had used carnitine to recover from debilitating fatigue herself some years ago, since married and had 2 children who have no sign of carnitine deficiency. However she stopped taking carnitine before having her third child and now finds that child has poor muscle tone and delayed milestones consistent with carnitine deficiency. This is likely to be a life-long problem now for that child.

We have the power to turn off this epigenetic switch by ensuring parents have adequate nutritional status before pregnancy so that we have healthy children not affected by the problems besetting their polio parents.

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