Sun, May-31-09, 03:19
Have just come across this:
From The Times
May 19, 2009
Schoolboy petitions MSPs over vitamin D link to MS
A Times investigation into the links between vitamin D deficiency and multiple sclerosis led a 14-year-old boy whose mother has the disease to petition Holyrood to provide a vitamin supplement to all children and pregnant women.
Ryan McLaughlin, from Glasgow, decided he had to do something after he read an exclusive report in The Times showing there was a direct interaction between vitamin D and a common genetic variant, which increased the possibility of MS being inherited.
His mother, Kirsten, 34, became ill with MS three years ago and earlier this year Ryan underwent tests after he showed symptoms of the disease.
His campaign, Shine on Scotland, has started an e-petition and has already won the backing of J.K. Rowling. “I am really honoured to support Ryan in his fantastic campaign,” the author said. “Ryan’s mother has MS as did my own mother. I only wish I had the gumption at 14 to do what Ryan is doing and get such an important issue raised in the Parliament.”
In addition to asking the Scottish government to provide vitamin D for children and pregnant women — in pills or in fortified milk or bread — Shine on Scotland is seeking clarification on the recommended daily allowance of the vitamin and a campaign to inform the public about its benefits in relation to MS.
The Times revealed in February that scientists at Oxford University had found what appears to be a genetic vulnerability to MS, apparently initiated by a lack of vitamin D. The World Health Organisation said that vitamin D supplements should be tested in Scotland “sooner rather than later”.
Ryan, who like his mother is a Taekwondo champion, said: “If everyone supports us by signing the e-petition, I am confident that we can bring about real change for future generations and help to prevent thousands of new cases of MS.”
Ryan’s father, Alan, 34, said that the family had been planning to move to Australia when his wife fell ill. She suffered nine relapses in 13 months and at one point could barely walk. Emigration became impossible but while on a holiday to Australia, Mrs McLaughlin’s health improved in the sunshine.
The family read the report in The Times linking vitamin D deficiency to the high incidence of MS and contacted Professor George Ebers at the University of Oxford, who forwarded them his research findings. Mr McLaughlin said: “Ryan and I sat and studied it. At the time he was waiting for tests for MS, because he was having trouble with his eyes and with spasms.
"He’d been watching J. K. Rowling being interviewed about her mother and he said to me, ‘Dad, you know the line in the film Braveheart about how you have just one chance to make a difference — well, I want to do something about MS so that people in future don’t have to suffer like Mum does every day’.”
The family gathered support from various charities and four weeks ago began their campaign. Ryan, who was found to be clear of MS after an MRI scan, made a poignant YouTube video and the e-petition was started.
Ryan has received messages of support from Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, and Kathleen McDermott, the Bafta Award-winning actress.
On June 16, he will lead 500 children on a march to the Scottish Parliament to lodge his petition.
For more information visit www.shineonscotland.org.uk
I think that I may have mentioned this here before, but my son had a friend who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 17. As they were growing up, while all the other kids were playing outside, he was always the one who was inside playing computer games. If he did venture out, his mother insisted on him being covered in total sun block.