What makes Jacko's face look white?

Q: I READ an article about Michael Jackson's strange skin disease which he says causes his face to look like a white person. Can you please tell me more about this condition? Dr Rose writes: Michael Jackson says he has vitiligo, a skin condition affectingup to one per cent of the population. It is an inherited condition, found not only in black people, but in persons of all racial backgrounds, including Asians. Vitiligo occurs in areas where the colour pigment producing melanocyte cells are deficient or non-existent. It usually appears on the face, shoulders, chest, and extremities, although in rare cases, it can cover the entire body.

In some cases, it is possible to treat vitiligo patients to bring about some repigmentation. Corticosteroid-containing creams are helpful. Phototherapy using ultra-violet light in combination with drugs is effective in treating about 50 per cent of vitiligo cases. Lesions on the face appear to be the most responsive. However, this treatment is lengthy and may take up to more than a year. Q: I AM in my eighth month of pregnancy and at my last visit with the doctor, she informed me that my baby is in a breech position. She tried not to worry me but I know women used to die from babies born like this. Can you please tell me more about this condition? Dr Rose writes: Birth of a baby bottom-first rather than the usual head-first delivery is called a breech delivery. By palpating your abdomen, your doctor can usually tell the position of the baby in terms of where the head and back are lying.

An ultrasound examination will confirm the baby's position. By the 32nd week or seventh month, most babies have rotated and assumed a head-first presentation. However, three to four per cent may assume the breech position. At around 34 weeks, some physicians will try to turn the baby.

If this is unsuccessful, some doctors may recommend a Caesarean section especially if the baby has a large head and the mother has small pelvic structures or has never had a baby before. Other doctors allow the woman to attempt a vaginal delivery but monitor the baby's heart rate to determine if the baby is distressed and if a Caesarean section is indicated. Q: MY friends and I were debating about what was the best kind of milk available in Hongkong. Can you help us sort out which is best: regular whole milk, skimmed milk, or the UHT milk from Australia and New Zealand that you don't have to refrigerate. Dr Rose writes: Regular whole milk is 3.5 per cent butterfat and contains about 150 calories and 8 grammes of fat in a one cup serving. Most whole milk isfortified with Vitamin D. Because it is high in fat and cholesterol and can be damaging to the cardiovascular system, it is best only for children from one to two years of age. Children less than one year old should be breast-fed or on formula.

Skim milk has most of the fats removed. It has less than 0.5 per cent fat and only 80 calories in an eight ounce serving. Because it does not contain any fats, it should not be given to children under two years of age. However, it is excellent for those who are on a calorie-reducing or low-fat diet.

Both whole milk and skim milk are available fresh from the dairy or in the cardboard UHT boxes that do not require refrigeration. The UHT milk undergoes a special vacuum and sterilisation process to provide added protection against spoilage. The nutritional content of UHT and fresh milk is the same.

Dry milk and evaporated milk are two other types of milk that are available. Like skim milk, dry milk is free of fats and cholesterol. It is usually fortified with vitamins A and D. Evaporated milk has a calorie count of about 360, far higher than whole milk, and up to 20 grammes of fat per serving. Its advantage is that it can be stored for many months. It is recommended only when specified in cooking recipes and should not be drunk as part of a regular diet.

For people with lactose deficiency (inability to break down lactose) lactose-treated milk is available. It contains about 100 calories per serving and two grammes of fat.

You must make sure that the milk you are drinking is pasteurised. With pasteurisation, foods are heated to destroy or retard the development of disease-causing micro-organisms. Pasteurisation has helped to decrease milk-borne diseases such as tuberculosis. Dr Rose Ong is a certified family physician licensed in the United States. She welcomes enquiries but cannot answer them individually. Specific questions should be addressed to your own physician. Additional enquiries: Peak Corporate Health Management, 525-6600, fax 525-8100.