Attention Pregnant Women: Eating Healthy Fats During Pregnancy May Reduce Autism Risk!

According to a new study at the Harvard School of Public Health, eating healthy fats during pregnancy could reduce the risk of the baby having autism. The participants of the study, 317 mothers who had a child with autism and 17, 728 without autism, completed a survey answering questions on what foods they ate during their pregnancy. According to the statistics of the study, an increased maternal intake of omega-6 fatty acids resulted in a 34% chance of a decreased risk of autism. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.

In addition to the omega-6 fatty acids, the study showed that eating low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, resulted in a 53% higher chance of having a child with autism. Now ladies, don’t get nervous when you hear “fish,” as some fish contains mercury, which is a concern during pregnancy. Salmon, herring and sardines contain low amounts of mercury so they are safe to eat. However, the researchers note that,

“consuming high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids did not further decrease the risk of autism compared with the risk for women who consumed average amounts…although getting too little omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of autism, once a certain threshold is reached, further consumption doesn’t provide an extra benefit.” [1]

The results of the study are not a cause-and-effect link with autism, just an association, and more studies need to be conducted to find a more concrete relationship. The study also took other factors into consideration, such as the mother’s age, total calorie intake and smoking status. 



[1] “Fox News” Eating healthy fats during pregnancy may reduce baby’s autism risk” 02 Jul 2013. Web. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/02/eating-healthy-fats-during-pregnancy-may-reduce-baby-autism-risk/>

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