Food for thought: dietary changes in essential fatty acid ratios and the increase in autism spectrum disorders

Kim van Elst, Hilgo Bruining, Barbara Birtoli, Christian Terreaux, Jan K Buitelaar, Martien J Kas
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 2014, 45: 369-78
The last decades have shown a spectacular and partially unexplained rise in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This rise in ASD seems to parallel changes in the dietary composition of fatty acids. This change is marked by the replacement of cholesterol by omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids in many of our food products, resulting in a drastically increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 (n-6/n-3). In this context, we review the available knowledge on the putative role of fatty acids in neurodevelopment and describe how disturbances in n-6/n-3 ratios may contribute to the emergence of ASDs. Both clinical and experimental research is discussed. We argue that a change in the ratio of n-6/n-3, especially during early life, may induce developmental changes in brain connectivity, synaptogenesis, cognition and behavior that are directly related to ASD.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"