Impact of Oxidative Stress on Children
Extensive studies have demonstrated that oxidative stress plays a vital role in the pathology of several neurological diseases, and children with special needs often have excessive oxidative stress. (2, 5)
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between damaging free radicals and antioxidants in a body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in the body because they react so easily with other molecules.
When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in a child’s body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of the body, so that damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time, including neurodegenerative diseases and inflammatory diseases.
Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive. (6)