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Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Treatment in Autism

Well here we are just a few days until Thanksgiving.  I’m looking forward to some rest and spending time with family.  We expect 13 at our home for dinner.  My wife has already done her shopping and has started to prepare the food.  The research article I will be submitting today is one of my favorite topics.  FISH OIL!  Yuck!  Well maybe.  Most people don’t find the idea of taking fish oil supplements as appealing, but I think it’s worth it.  I have personally been taking fish oil supplements for about 10 years.  There are many peer reviewed research articles about the cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits of fish oil.  This article is titled, Omega 3 Fatty Acid Treatment in Autism.  It was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology; Volume 19, Number 4, August 2009, pp.449-451.  The authors are Gal Meiri, M.D., Yoav Bichovsky, M.D., and R.H. Belmaker, M.D.

FROM ABSTRACT:

Objective:  The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy and safety of omega-3 fatty acids for children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

Methods:  This was an open-label pilot study.  Ten children aged 4-7 years old with ASD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, were given 1 gram daily of omega-3 fatty acids for 12 months.  (380 mg EPA, 180 mg DHA)  The main outcome measure used was the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist.

Results:  Of the 9 subjects who completed the study, 8 showed improvement of about 33% on the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist.  None worsened and no side effects were reported.

Conclusions:  Omega-3 fatty acids appear to be safe and might be helpful for children suffering from ASD.

I thought that it was interesting that the amount of omega-3 was EPA+DHA of 560 mg per day as this is not a high dosage.  This is actually a light dosage.  Omega-3 fatty acids are essential constituents of cell membranes including those in brain nerve cells and are critical in neurodevelopment.  Higher fish consumption during pregnancy is associated with better infant cognition with the greatest effect for infants whose mothers consumed the most fish.  Low maternal seafood consumption is associated with infants who have lower verbal IQs and suboptimal outcomes for fine motor, communication and social development.

I personally love to eat seafood, but I believe that farm raised fish and shrimp is not the same as natural deep sea fish as it relates to omega-3 concentration and benefits.  There is also contamination factor to consider when eating a lot of seafood.  Therefore I recommend omega-3 supplementation.  These supplements go through a strict purification process.  I usually recommend either Nordic Naturals brand or Pure Encapsulations brand.  Both have a chewable (fruit flavor added) for children.  Although I don’t have the reference today, I have read that omega-3 from fish oil is superior to other sources such as flax seed.

So I hope this was helpful.  Please check out my website: chiropractor west palm beach and feel free to e-mail me with questions.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Gregg F Moses, DC

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