Over the past two decades, the rate of children born with chronic health conditions has doubled. One out of four children now has a special health need. Reversing this trend will require rethinking not only prenatal care but preconception as well. However, the changes that need to be made may prove to be surprisingly simple.
Kirkman’s new line of prenatal nutritional supplements, P2i Baby™, was designed to help improve the chances that mothers-to-be will have healthy, complication free pregnancies. But P2i™ (which stands for Preconception to Infancy) is more than just a line of supplements. The supplements themselves are just part of a broad, ambitious program that seeks to revolutionize pediatric and preconception/prenatal health care.
Sponsored by the non-profit think tank, the Forum, the P2i™ program has the objectives of promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing the chronic childhood health problems that are on the rise across the globe.
The program involves testing laboratories, a virtual, college-like campus and a vast data collection effort. A P2i™ Center of Excellence will be launched in 2017 in Atlanta, Ga. This facility will focus on exposomic research, with the goal of improving pregnancy outcomes. The program also includes a faculty of clinicians and researchers who will guide research and create a training program for P2i™ certified physicians and researchers.
Kirkman® was chosen by the Forum to be its supplier of nutraceutical products based on stringent criteria, including a standard for purity testing, that includes testing for more than 950 environmental contaminants that are potentially harmful to human health.
The P2i™ supplement line is based on the work of P2i™ faculty member, Dr. David Berger. Dr. Berger is a board-certified pediatrician and owner of Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care in Tampa, Fla. He also offers preconception and prenatal counseling and testing for mothers-to-be. Dr. Berger’s patients have had extraordinarily low numbers of complications. His practice of addressing nutritional issues and minimizing toxicity levels in patients is the key to developing healthy babies.
Dr. Berger’s standard practice involves teaching prospective parents to minimize toxic exposures, then optimizing certain nutrients and balancing hormones such as the thyroid and cortisol. Ideally this is done before pregnancy, but if started during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, there is still a great benefit to the baby–and the mother too!
Dr. Berger particularly stresses the importance of vitamin D, iron, folate, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids that can be obtained from the diet as well as from nutritional supplements. His approach to nutrient testing is to optimize the values, not just to accept the bottom of the reference range.
These reference ranges are based on average amounts present in the blood of Americans, but he feels that it would be false to assume that most Americans are healthy.
For example, many doctors will recommend a vitamin-D blood level of 32 nanograms per milliliter. Dr. Berger recommends a minimum of 50ng/ml. For other tests, he aims to get the patient’s level to at least the 50th percentile of the lab’s range.
The approach seems commonsensical, and Dr. Berger is clearly doing something right. He claims his rates of preterm birth at his clinic, for instance, are about a tenth of the national average.
But we are still left with the question: which practices lead to which outcomes? Are Dr. Berger’s outcomes the result of the presence of high levels of nutrients or the absence of contaminants? Or a combination of both? Do blood levels of all nutrients need to be high, or is there one that is a silver bullet?
The answer is we don’t yet know, according to Dr. Berger.
He explains that as a doctor it’s his responsibility to do everything he can to ensure positive outcomes for his patients. This often means that he is offering many treatments at once, which makes his approach difficult to research. Ensuring, for instance, some of his patients have sufficient levels of zinc, but not vitamin D, would obviously be unethical.
“There must be ten things that I do differently with every patient from what happens at most clinics. So at this point I don’t know which one, or which combation, it is. But I can state that it appears that our wholistic approach to child bearing seems to be bringing wonderfully, amazing outcomes,” he says.
However the P2i™ program, by gathering an enormous amount of data over the next few years, may be able to clarify these issues. By logging clinical data—nutritional, genetic, microbiomic, exposomic—for thousands of mothers and their infants, and comparing that data with outcomes, doctors will be able to see the connections between particular nutritional, genetic and environmental statuses and particular outcomes.
“The brilliance of P2i™ is that five to 10 years from now we’ll know. And in fact we’ll even know some things early on, because one of the main things we hopefully will see happening is cutting the risk of miscarriages and pre-term birth, and that you’ll see in the first year, obviously. That’s an easy outcome to measure,” Dr. Berger says.
The Forum’s goal is to enroll 300,000 pregnant women in the P2i™ program from the United States. Children born to participants will participate in the P2i™ protocol through their first five years of life. Treatments and outcomes will be collected in a database that can be used by researchers to improve treatment protocols and also to help researchers better understand how genetics, nutritional status and exposures combine to influence the risk of health problems.
Products in Kirkman’s P2i Baby™ nutritional line:
- #2501-120 P2i Baby™ Preconception Vitamins and Minerals for Men — Hypoallergenic
- #2502-120 P2i Baby™ Preconception Vitamins and Minerals for Women — Hypoallergenic
- #2503-060 P2i Baby™ Probiotic Gastrointestinal Support — Hypoallergenic
- #2434-120 P2i Baby™ Vitamin D-3 4000 IU — Hypoallergenic Capsules
- #2938-120 P2i Baby™ Prenatal/Postnatal Omega-3 Support
- #2498-120 P2i Baby™ Bone Health Advanced Formula for Mom and Baby — Hypoallergenic
- #2518-120 P2i Baby™ Toxicity Control — Hypoallergenic
- #2519-120 P2i Baby™ Prenatal Advanced Care Vitamin & Mineral Formula with 5-MTHF — Hypoallergenic