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Autism, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Dietary Supplements and The Interval Between Pregnancies

Autism is a neurological scourge that affects as many as 1 out of 120 individuals. The causes of autism are poorly understood.

A very large study of pregnant women was able to determine that if the interval between pregnancies is less than 2 years, the risk for autism rises 3 fold! If the interval between pregnancies is 3 years or more, the incidence of autism drops to a base level that doesn't seem to vary much with regard to the incidence of autism and the interval between pregnancies. The study looked at over 400,000 pregnancies.

The study was unable to determine the reason(s) for the difference in the rates of autism when compared to the interval between pregnancies. The researchers suggested that it was likely that deficiencies in the mother's chemical make-up following the first pregnancy were not corrected by the time the mother became pregnant again. Genetic and other factors were not addressed.

Does this information position humankind for a paradigm shift about how we look at dietary and nutritional supplements? Several generations ago, scientist discovered vitamins. Vitamins are derived from ammonia and contain a nitrogen molecule. At first, nutritionists looked to find natural sources of the various vitamins. The mutiny on the English ship Bounty is based on the attempt to transfer and cultivate the breadfruit from one part of the Pacific to another. Breadfruit contains high amounts of vitamin C.

The next step was to manufacture vitamins and in some cases use them to treat various conditions such as malnutrition, wound healing etc.

This was followed by the current supplemental phase. People are free to supplement their diets with vitamins even when they are otherwise healthy. But the current mantra remains that if you have a balanced diet, you don't need vitamin supplementation.

Are we ready for the next step? The study on autism suggests that healthy people may be able to prevent or reduce the incidence of autism by extending the period between pregnancies to at least 3 years. But could there be more that could be done to lower the risk of autism?

We know that folic acid taken at critical times during fetal development will reduce the risk of neural tube abnormalities in the baby. There are other examples of the benefits of supplementation. Let's consider omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients. They are vitafats. Every cell needs omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is essential for building normal neural pathways. Researchers have found that neural pathways built from Omega 6 fatty acids differ substantially from the neural wiring that occurs when omega 3 fatty acids are available.

Do omega 3 fatty acids cure autism? No. But omega 3 fatty acids are being used in neurological conditions with significant abnormalities. The basis for their use is the belief that these vitafats give the individual the best cellular environment and chance for combating these neurological abnormalities. After all, omega 3 fatty acid is vital, essential and our cells have to have it.


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