FoodFacts.com has always been very concerned about the trend steering people away from the consumption of any fats. Fats are actually important for our health and well-being. The trend away from fat consumption can be concerning for many reasons. One of the essential problems with lower fat or fat free products is what manufacturers need to add to ingredient lists to make such products appetizing. And, of course, a problem can ensue with the avoidance of any fat at all. Some fats are good for you.
And a new study strongly suggests that good fats are good for babies growing in their mother’s wombs. Women who eat certain types of healthy fat during pregnancy may reduce their risk of having a child with autism.
In the study, 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. The results provide preliminary evidence that increased maternal intake of omega-6 fatty acids could, in fact, reduce the risk of offspring with autism spectrum disorder. It’s important to note that the study found an association – and not a cause-and-effect-link, between a pregnant woman’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. While the reason for the link remains unknown and points to the need for further study, researchers note that fatty-acid consumption is important for the brain development of a fetus.
The study found only an association, and not a cause-and-effect link, between pregnant women’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. In addition, the study was small, and future research will be needed to confirm the results, the researchers said.
The new study included 317 mothers who had a child with autism and 17,728 mothers who had a child without autism. Participants answered questions about the types of food they ate. The researchers noted that 5,884 women in the study completed the questionnaire during their pregnancy, while the rest completed it within about a year after being pregnant.
The researchers noted that consuming high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids did not further decrease the risk of autism compared with the risk for women who consumed average amounts. This suggests that although getting too little omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of autism, once a certain threshold is reached, further consumption doesn’t provide an extra benefit, the researchers said.
The researchers took into account other factors that might have influenced the risk of autism, such as the mother’s age, total calorie intake and smoking status during pregnancy. But it’s possible that other factors not included in the study may explain the link.
FoodFacts.com wants to encourage all of us to feel good about consuming healthy fats. Nutritional awareness is such an important concept for all of us. And this new study points out that it’s even more important for expectant mothers to understand the nutritional importance of the foods they consume.