Omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested for use in individuals with autism. A study conducted in April 2011 may provide data demonstrating why many claim benefits from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in autism. The research article is titled Impaired Plasma Phospholipids and Relative Amounts of Essential Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Autistic Patients from Saudi Arabia.
The purpose of the study was to compare plasma levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs), long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (long chain PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and phospholipids between individuals with autism and individuals in a control group.
The study consisted of 25 autistic individuals and 16 individuals in the control group. Participants were between the ages of 3 and 15 years old.
Several elements of the plasma were studied. These included the ratio of various essential fatty acids/long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, the ratio of various omega-3 fatty acids/omega-6 fatty acids, and the levels of the phospholipids phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidylcholine.
The study found that autistic individuals had significantly lower levels of plasma phospholipid levels compared to the control group. The results also demonstrated that individuals with autism had significantly higher ratios of specific essential fatty acids/long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and significantly higher ratios of specific omega-3 fatty acids/omega-6 fatty acids compared to controls.
The authors state that these differences could possibly be used as biomarkers to identify how autism develops. They also state that these findings might impact autism treatment and prevention approaches.
The article was published on April 22, 2011 in Lipids in Health and Disease.
- Impaired Plasma Phospholipids and Relative Amounts of Essential Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Autistic Patients from Saudi Arabia Research Abstract from PubMed