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Playing outdoors is good for children

By Ozo Mordi
21 May 2016   |   2:22 am
Playtime is essential for the wellbeing of children. However, with the insecurity issues like kidnapping especially, more and more parents are grappling with how best to keep the children safe.


Playtime is essential for the wellbeing of children. However, with the insecurity issues like kidnapping especially, more and more parents are grappling with how best to keep the children safe. Some parents are anxious about safety that their fears are robbing their offspring that natural inclination of a child to enjoy the gift of nature by exploring her surroundings.

“So is it not safer to lock them indoors?” a concerned mother asked recently. Nobody would call you over-protective if chose to keep them indoors so you could watch over them.

However, you may need to think of other safety measures because it has been proved that children who play outside have better sight.

But a study done right here in Nigeria says that the sunshine we moan continually about is healthy for us, affects the brain positively and protects us from diseases like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, migraine and motor neuron diseases. And the magic is Vitamin D, which the research says is abundant and obtainable in adequate doses from African sunshine.

Professor Mustapha Danesi, Consultant Neurologist at the College of Medicine, Ibadan, made the disclosure recently when he presented the result of research he carried out on brain diseases. And the research, he says, was done for over 21 years. In the study, he said that lower incidence of photosensitive epilepsy was observed among Nigerians. According to him, in a preliminary study of 362 epileptic patients done in Lagos, it was found that 2.76% had television-induced epilepsy. This was lower than 8.6% of epileptic patients found to have television induced epilepsy in the UK. When the patients had electroencephalography (EEG) done, photo paroxysmal (PPD) discharges occurred in 1.6% of them, which was lower than the five per cent reported in the UK.

To compare Nigerian and British patients, the Professor said that when EEG records of 242 Nigerian patients who had a clear diagnosis of epilepsy seen at the teaching hospital and those of 846 British patients seen at the National Hospital, Queens Square, London, the incidence of PPD was significantly higher at (10.5%) compared to that of Nigerian patients at (1.24%).

“Several suggestions have been made to explain the lower incidence of PPD in black Africans compared to Caucasians and ethnicity, a peculiarity of the black race was suggested as the difference. I suggested environmental factor-high level of sunshine in African environment reduced the cerebral excitability of the epileptic patients living in African countries.

“A study of EEG recording of over 2000 British patients showed seasonal variation with the lowest incidence in (2.5%) in summer and the highest (10.8%) in winter. A study of 408 British patients investigated after a single seizure for PPD showed similar seasonal variation with the lowest incidence (1.85%) in summer and the highest incidence (11.2%) in winter.

“I obtained from the British Meteorological Service in Kew daily sunshine figures for one year. From these, the average lengths of bright sunshine during the various season of the year were calculated; there was inverse relationship between the average length of bright sunshine and incidence of PPD.

In winter, when the average length of bright sunshine was less than two hours daily, it was found that PPD was 96%. In summer with an average of bright sunshine greater than six hours, PPD was 9.1%, the

“Environmental sunshine is associated with increased Vitamin D levels in the body. Low levels have been associated with increased excitability of cerebral neurons leading to epilepsy.

“A recent study showed that epilepsy was associated with low Vitamin D level in the body and that normalization of the vitamin had anti convulsion effect. The thirteen participants had Vitamin D levels which ranged from 4ng/ml to 34ng/ml with the median levels of 11.8ng/ml. After treatment, the levels improved from 23 to 45ng/ml with the median level 38ng/ml.

“After this, 10 of the 13 subjects had decreased number of seizures. One of the patients who had a dangerously low level of 4ng/ml and had 45 seizures in three months had only thirty; the Vitamin D level had increase to 43ng/ml”

Professor Danesi said that a study at the University College Hospital, Ibadan showed that childhood febrile seizure was strongly associated with epilepsy. Another at the university of Benin, he said, risk factors for epilepsy were febrile seizures, birth asphyxia and brain infections, adding that Africans are exposed to these risks because of poor maternal and child care.