PEKING -- Large doses of nutrients -- primarily vitamin C -- given to retarded children can boost their intelliegence and enable them to become useful human beings, two prominent American nutrition experts said today.
Linus Pauling, twice winner of the Nobel prize and president of the California-based foundation for nutritional advancement, and fellow nutritionist Arthur Sackler, briefed reporters on two 'breakthrough reports' presented by American researchers at an international conference in Tianjin.
Sackler said a joint paper by Donald Davis of the University of Texas and Ruth Harrell of the Old Dominion College in Virginia showed that vitamins and minerals could raise the intelligence quotient (IQ) of people by 15 points, 'which can mean the difference between a socially functional or non-functional human being.'
The Davis-Harrell report was partially corroborated by the research of William Shive of the University of Texas. Shive showed that a better state of normality could be created by adding 'a specific substance that was missing which resulted in neuro-physiological changes,' Sackler said.
Pauling explained a retarded child with an IQ in the range of 60 'cannot get along by himself in society in the United States, but has to be taken care of.'
'If he has an IQ of 80, he can get along and contribute to the work of the world.
'Dr. Harrell in her careful study found that after four months of improved nutrition, the IQ of 60 is up to 70, and after another four months, it is almost up to 80 on the average, with some of them going even higher,' he said.
The treatment involved 'just the taking of some tablets everyday,' Pauling said. The tablets contain 100 times the usual amount of vitamin C and several other vitamins and minerals.
The cost of this treatment is 5-10 percent of the usual cost of caring for retarded children, Pauling said.
'Practically, this is of great significance throughout the world because of the high incidence of mental retardation, and also because it may relate to such very common conditions as epilepsy, and theoretically to changes occurring in older patients -- so called senile changes in older patients,' Sackler said.
Pauling, winner of a Nobel peace prize and chemistry prize, dismissed claims that vitamin C causes cancer. 'There is no evidence of carcinogenic effects of vitamin C, no evidence at all,' he said, adding that general statements about the toxic effects of vitamins 'are greatly exaggerated.'
Pauling and Sackler were chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the first international conference on nutrition held in China June 5-8. Some 500 scientists attended the conference in the port city of Tianjin.