A study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that women who eat certain types of healthy fat during pregnancy may reduce their risk of having a child with autism.
The study found that women who consumed linoleic acid – a type of omega-6 acid found in vegetables, oils, nuts and seeds – were 34 percent less likely to give birth to a child with autism. The study also found that women who consumed low levels of omega-3 fatty acids – like those found in fish, were 53% more likely compared to those who consumed average amounts.
The study found only an association, not a cause-and-effect link, between pregnant women’s fatty-acids consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism.
“Our results provide preliminary evidence that increased maternal intake of omega-6 fatty acids could reduce risk of offspring [autism spectrum disorder], and that very low intakes of omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid could increase risk.”
According to the report, future research will be needed to confirm the results.
Essential fatty acids are needed for a healthy heart and brain.They play a role in the development of the fetus, in vitamin absorption, energy, healthy skin and hair. They can also help prevent cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and depression.
Omega-6 fatty acid can be found in healthy oils, nuts and seeds. This includes walnuts, avocados, sesame seeds and dark, leafy greens.
It’s recommended that pregnant women eat around 200 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids / day. Good sources are salmon, herring and sardines, which tend to be low in mercury — women can eat up to 12 ounces a week.
Talk to your doctor and make sure you are getting enough good fat in your diet.