Eating Healthy Fats During Pregnancy Could Lower Your Baby’s Autism Risk

A new study suggests that women who consume higher levels of healthy fats during pregnancy may reduce their child’s risk of having autism. Researchers are unsure of the reasoning behind the link; however, they do know that these particular fatty acids have been shown to be important for brain development of the fetus. More from Yahoo! News:

In the study, which was published online June 27 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who consumed high levels of linoleic acid — a type of omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds — were 34 percent less likely to give birth to a child with autism compared with women who consumed low levels of the nutrient.

In addition, women who consumed very low levels of omega-3 fatty acids — which are found in fish — were 53 percent more likely to have a child with autism compared with women who consumed average amounts.

The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women consume about 200 milligrams (0.007 ounces) of the omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day. (One 5-ounce serving of salmon provides about 2,100 mg of DHA, so one serving weekly means a person’s daily intake would average 300 milligrams.) Though mercury in fish is a concern during pregnancy, fish such as salmon, herring and sardines tend to be low in mercury, and pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces per week, the March of Dimes says. Nuts and vegetable oils (e.g., canola oil, soybean oil and olive oil) can also be good sources of healthy fatty acids.

Image: Pregnant woman feeling the baby via Shutterstock

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