Mount Saint Vincent Researcher Receives Funding to Prevent Infant Death in Cambodia
Beriberi, a nutritional disorder caused by a lack of thiamine, and more commonly known as vitamin B1, is a deadly childhood disorder in Southeast Asia. According to the World Health Organization, the disorder affects the heart and the nerves.
Dr. Kyly Whitfield, an assistant professor at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) has been studying this problem in Cambodia over the last years, working on a solution to eradicate this disorder. The number one reason, why people in Cambodia suffer from beriberi is that white rice, the nations staple food, does not contain B vitamins.
To support her work, Dr. Whitfield has received over $1 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help determine if a table salt mixture containing thiamine will eradicate beriberi. The research will focus on exactly how much thiamine needs to be added to the table salt to achieve the right dosage amount of thiamine contained in the breast milk, preventing beriberi.
Dr. Whitfield's previous work on fortifying fish sauce did not prove to be easily adaptable in Cambodia, so using table salt emerged as the natural alternative to investigate. Worldwide salt producers already add iodine to table salt, so it will be easy to add thiamine.
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