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Could Fish Oil Treat Autism?

Scottish scientists may have stumbled on an exciting breakthrough in the development of autism that could very well lead to a more natural treatment for this devastating condition: Ramping up one's intake of omega-3 fats.

According to a pilot study conducted last year, cell membranes in the blood of autistic children processed fatty acids at a much faster rate than other kids, leading University of Stirling researchers to speculate fatty acid deficiency may be a partial trigger for autism. In fact, the lead scientist compared the deficiency in autistic children to a wall that loses bricks faster than they can be replaced.

On the down side, however, the lead researcher recommended eating oily fish such as salmon and mackerel to boost one's intake of omega-3 fats, a problematic solution to say the least due to the mercury found in virtually all fish. (If you're not convinced, calculate your exposure to mercury as a result of eating various kinds of fish.)

But if you're looking for a pure source of omega-3 fats, there's nothing better for your health and pocketbook than taking a high-quality fish or cod liver oil daily.

To the good, it sounds like these preliminary results go hand-in-hand with another British study I posted last month that found children who were given fish oil supplements showed significant improvements in reading and spelling.

The Scotsman June 1, 2005

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