DHA may be useful in the management of autism


Autism spectrum disorders (autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder) are a group of related neurological developmental disorders that affect approximately 45 to 110 individuals per 10,000, and they have in common the following characteristics: persistent deficits in social communication and interaction; restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior; symptoms must be present in the first two years of life and cause significant impairment in several areas of functioning (e.g.: social or occupational).

The abnormal metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids is implicated in autism. Autistic children have decreased levels of essential fatty acids in red blood cells: key polyunsaturated fatty acids required for brain development are significantly lower in individuals with autism compared to individuals without autism, possibly due to overactive metabolism of this kind of fatty acids in people with autism. If this overactive metabolism is lowering polyunsaturated fatty acids levels in the tissues of autistic persons, then supplementation with DHA may be useful in the management of autism.