Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New Autism Spectrum Disorder Study

EATING more oily fish could help manage autism in children, according to a study involving Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital.
A possible link between fatty acid deficiency and childhood autism has been discovered by scientists at the universities of Edinburgh and Stirling.
The researchers are now to investigate whether eating more fatty acids, which are contained in oily fish, could actually help reduce the effects of childhood autism. The study is being carried out in conjunction with the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids in Edinburgh and South Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Early results have suggested that the behaviour of fatty acids in the blood of children diagnosed with autism may differ from that of other youngsters.
The team now want to discover whether autistic children break down the vital acids too quickly.
The study is looking specifically at highly unsaturated fatty acids such as arachidonic (ARA) or docosahexaenoic (DHA), which are needed to boost vital brain functions, as well as helping the body to fight off disease.
They are found in oily cold-water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, black cod, anchovies, and tuna.
Dr Anne O'Hare of the University of Edinburgh said: "The number of children diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically over the past ten years, both in Scotland, and in the developed world as a whole.
"We hope that this new research will lead to the development of treatments for managing autism in children."
But she added: "We are a long way from that at the moment."