Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter 2: Pretty little bows...all in a row. Christmas 2007 and Omega-3

As with all of my posts, if you want to get right to the research and skip my babble, just scroll down. I am not a doctor, I draw stuff for a living. This blog is my interpretation of the research. Please research these things on behalf of your health that of your loved ones, and discuss them with your doctor or nutritionist.

When we brought up the idea of trying Omega-3 with our pediatrician he seemed interested. Although he was not familiar with the research with learning disabilities, he had read much about Omega-3 and it's role in many other health conditions. His reply was that it might, at least, be beneficial from a health standpoint even if it did not help with the ASD or speech. We received an ok for Omega-3 and a referral to ECI services to get our child, "G", evaluated, but he was not sure where to go from there. We really didn't know either.

I wondered if Omega-3 might be benificial for me as well, I had suffered mysterious autoimmune issues most of my life. It was worth a try. So on November 1, 2007 we purchased some Omega-3 fish oil capsules from Sam's. I would put 1/2 of a 1000 mg capsule in his sippy cup with is juice (by all means, get a dosage from your doctor if trying this for your child). By the end of the week G's dull, dry hair began to have a gloss to it...mine was still a dull frise. By week two his nails were less brittle and the rough dry skin on his back was face was still a flaky mess. By week three his babbling had turned from a robotic "Da, lk tk ga la" to a normal babbling sound. He had begun saying "Uh-oh". He began to drink from a straw, showed more interest in playing with his toys and we could swear his eye contact was getting better. His day caretaker thought she noticed it too. Soon he could say tee-tee and doo-doo and was excited to tattle on our chihuahua every chance he could. His temper tantums were drastically reduced in quantity and length. Tantrums could last for hours at a time, now they were 45 min - 1 hour tops. He was also starting to sleep about six hours a night. By Christmas he could be responsive to adults and show a playful side. Strangely, children still seemed mysteriously invisible to him, even when playing near them.

During this time we found out we were pregnant with identical twins (the other one was missed on the first ultrasound and not seen until the second). I was exhausted but hopeful, finding the Omega-3 was helping G. He still had autism but he was noticeably better. It was to be the first in a series of miracles, although we had no idea at the time. We began working on his play skills. I had found several articles on the importance of play for children. Play is how children apply the knowledge they learn, without play the knowledge is not of much use. Helping a special needs child learn to play is vital!!! I remember my brother as a kid, he would sit in the middle of a pile of toys and not play with them. He loved science fiction and had every "Star Wars" toy, but he never really seemed to play. Another unusual thing, he was obviously bright and reading on college level by fourth grade, but it was like he could'nt really do anything with his knowledge. He sat for hours in the middle of his pile of toys, rocking or watching T.V. So I came home from work and played with G every night. Eddie focused on motor skills and speech while I focused on playing with toys. I had found some helpful videos called Teach to Play!, produced by Jenny McCarthy. They gave ideas on how to build play skills and he was responding well.

The week after Christmas we found out we had lost the twins. But that same week something amazing also happened, G began hugging again! We had not had his hugs and goodnight kisses in so long, it was wonderful. I think that's the one thing a mother misses the most, whether your child's hugs are lost to illness, seperation, death, or autism. We spent a whole day on the couch cuddling and watching cartoons. We still do that every chance we get.

By January I had noticed something in myself too, I didn't take nearly as much allergy medicine. I used to depend on it to sleep at night(I did without it during my pregnancies and suffered through the allergies). I also wasn't using up a box of kleenex every couple of days. It had taken a three months but I was starting to get benefits from Omega-3 as well.

Now I was even more fascinated with Omega-3 and continued to find information on it. In what other areas was the deficiency hurting? In what other ways was Omega-3 supplementation helping? I thought of all of the people around me suffering with allergies, inflammation, behavior problems, autoimmune problems and wondered how much could have been prevented? How much money had we spent on allergy medicines and prescriptions? How many times could we have enjoyed our lives more if it were not for these conditions? Our quality of life and our pocket books have both taken a hit! I wondered how the Omega-3 deficient modern diet may affect our pets. If corn fed beef was hurting us, what about dogs, they eat beef too. As it turns out, they are suffering many of the same ailments we are dry skin, allergies, agressive behavior, and inflammatory responses.

One could spend a lifetime researching Omega-3. It appears that if it our diets weren't so defficient in Omega-3 half of the medical and psychiatric communtiy would be unemployed. You can find it tied to just about anything: brain development, aging, dry skin, PMS, and the list goes on. It's role in cancer is still controversial. Some studies point to benefits while others don't, but the research will probably continue for this. If you ever have time on your hands to kill and need entertainment, just Google "Omega-3". What you learn may improve your quality of life.

I found tons of information on the role of Omega-3 supplementation and fish consumption and reduced risk cardiovasculer disease. We've been told to eat a high grain (and thus high omega-6 diet) to prevent heart disease. It seems for some of us, whether we eat a junk diet or "healthy" according to the food pyramid we can wind up with a similar response: Inflammation. I was beginning to think what was taught as a healthy diet was not all it was cracked up to be. If I wanted to take better care of my family I needed to learn more. It all started with a mind blowing chapter in a book on Omega-3, but that's not where it stopped...

Omega-3 fatty acids!

Medline Plus: Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid!

Effects of n-3 fatty acids on autoimmunity and osteoporosis.!

Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases.!

Dietary lipids and risk of autoimmune disease.!

Role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in diet of patients with rheumatic diseases]!

Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis!

A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain.!

The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.!

Omega-3 Kills Cancer Cells!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids!

Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 2 : macronutrients.!

Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in children with autism: a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study.!

[Omega-3 fatty acids in psychiatry]!

Omega-3 fatty acid treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.!

Amounts of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Autism!

Correlation between changes in blood fatty acid composition and visual sustained attention performance in children with inattention: effect of dietary n–3 fatty acids containing phospholipids!

EFA supplementation in children with inattention, hyperactivity, and other disruptive behaviors.!

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Autism and other Neuropsychiatric Disorders!

Roles of unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) in the brain at various ages and during ageing.!

Dietary omega-3 fatty acids for women.!

[Lipids, depression and suicide]!

Dietary supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid, but not with other long-chain n-3 or n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, decreases natural killer cell activity in healthy subjects aged >55 y.!

Omega-3 fatty acids' relationship to canine aggression!

Association of inflammatory markers elevation with aggressive behavior in domestic dogs!

The Effect of Omega -3 Fatty Acids On Canine Atopic Dermatitis!

Dietary fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: an epidemiological approach!

Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids!

Dietary fat and cardiovascular disease risk: quantity or quality?!

Dietary fat consumption and health.!

Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease.!

n-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease.!

Risk stratification by the "EPA+DHA level" and the "EPA/AA ratio" focus on anti-inflammatory and antiarrhythmogenic effects of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid!

Long-chain n-3 fatty acids and mortality in elderly patients.!

Blood concentrations of individual long-chain n-3 fatty acids and risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction.!


  1. Great post! I will try to work through some of those links too - you can never know too much about this stuff.

    Did you know that salicylate sensitivity can be responsible for omega 3 deficiency in some people - it's very common in people with ADHD symptoms, whether concommitant with autism or some other condition. One of the main physical symptoms of salicylate sensitivity is dry itchy skin and inflammation...

    The reason these people become deficient in omega 3 is because in sensitive individuals salicylates bind with omega 3 fats and render them inabsorbable. This leads to all the behavioural problems associated with omega 3 deficiency. Although supplementation will help these individuals, removing the high salicylate foods (tomatoes, green apples, berries, honey, pineapple, peppers - amongst others) will enable the body to take up omega 3 from the diet again.

    My son Fin is a sensitive and it took me a long time to work it out. I think it always pays to look beyond the deficiency to what might be causing it.

    For folks like you and me with an already damaged system the recovery can take so much longer.

    x x x

  2. I did not know that. I had heard of the salicylate sensitivity and ASD, but I did not know it could contribute to an Omega-3 deffeciency. Thank You!

  3. Mrs. Ed, I think you ROCK! You are a brave warrior mother, and if I could I would total honor you with a medal ;)