One in 68 Children has Autism

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Therapeutic Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Challenging Behaviors of Autistic Individuals

September 15, 2008 3:03 am Published by

There are enormous amounts of both anecdotal and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies about the neurobehavioral mechanisms of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in psychiatric disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (Meguid, et. al. 2008; Kidd, 2007; Clayton, et. al., 2007; Sliwinski , et. al., 2006; Amminger, et al., 2006; Vaisman, et. al., 2006; Parker, et. al. 2006; Gustafsson, et. al., 2004; Longan, 2003; Marangell, et. al., 2003; Bell, et. al, 2002; McCrone, 2002; Peet, 2002; Vancassel, et al., 2001; Fenton, et. al., 2000; Stoll, et. al. 1999; Bourre, et. al. 1993; Hibbeln, et. al., 1995.)

Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids found in various plants and marine animals that cannot be synthesized in the human body, and are important for normal cellular function. The three major omega 3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid ( ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

(Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 1999)

Normally, we can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, which are the forms that we can metabolize. However, recent evidence shows that the capacity to produce EPA and DHA from ALA is limited and unlikely to supply requirements, especially in rapidly growing young children (Agostoni, et. al. 1995).

Omega-3 fatty acids are considered an important element in normal brain development. According to several researchers (Bourre, et al. 1991, 1993; Yehuda, et al., 1999 & Vancassel, et al., 2001), the human brain is the second organ that contains the highest concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). In the nervous system, one out of every three fatty acids belongs to the polyunsaturated fatty acids group (Bourre, et al., 1991 & Yehuda, et al., 1999). Some studies suggest that the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids are lower in autistic individuals, in comparison with normal populations (Kidd, 2007.)

Autism Spectrum Disorder has a very complex etiology and core symptom domains such as “qualitative impairment in social interaction”, “qualitative impairments in communication” and “restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities” (DSM-IV). Evidence from research studies have hypothesized that the core symptoms domains are in part due to a developmental disorder of the central nervous system (Trottier, et al., 1999).

Meguid and colleagues (2008) evaluated the correlation between omega-3 and challenging behaviors in a study of 30 children with autism in comparison with 30 healthy children (control group). They found that autistic children treated with linolenic acid (an omega-3) showed 71% reduction in challenging behaviors. Amminger and colleague (2006) provided preliminary evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective treatment for challenging behaviors in children with autism (hyperactivity and stereotypy behaviors).

A possible explanation for the therapeutic effects of omega-3 on autism has to do with its relationship with pro-inflammatory mediators such as Serotonin. While it is commonly known that Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates neuronal activity in the brain, it is also a product of platelet cells involved in inflammatory reactions. It has a similar action to histamine, in that it also dilates arterioles and increases the permeability of venules.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an Omega-3 fatty acid, acts to reduce pro-inflammatory reactions by suppressing the production of mediators such asThromboxane A2 that lead to platelet aggregation and stimulation, and thus release Serotonin and Histamine. Given that Serotonin levels in autistic individuals are elevated above normal and, as some studies suggest, may be related to the pathology of autism, it would be reasonable to consider if Omega-3 can potentially lower Serotonin levels and produce a positive behavioral response in autistic individuals (Anderson, et al., 1987; Sliwinski, 2006.) Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is derived from the essential amino-acid Tryptophan. Serotonin regulates mood and abnormalities and has been associated with depression, aggression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, feeding behaviors and obesity.

Croonenberghs and colleagues (2008, 2007, 2005, and 2002) suggested that abnormalities in the inflammatory response system (IRS), may induce some of the behavioral symptoms of autism, such as social withdrawal, resistance to novelty and sleep disturbances. Disorders in the peripheral and central metabolism of Serotonin (5-HT) may play a role in the pathophysiology of autistic disorder (Sliwinski, 2006.) Again, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs – Omega-3, in particular DHA) are potent suppressors of the Inflammatory Response System (IRS), and currently used as treatment, for instance, of rheumatoid arthritis (Chen, et al., 2005; Young & Conquet, 2005.)

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) supplementation may play an important role in ameliorating autistic problematic behavior. Some of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are fish, corn, soybean oil and safflower oil. Unfortunately, many fish such as shark, swordfish, and tuna are high in mercury and other toxins, but salmon and shrimp, for instance, tend to have lower levels of mercury. Some studies reported that mercury levels in several USA brands of fish oil capsules are undetectable. High doses of omega-3 may have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding.

According to the FDA the maximum safe dietary dosage is no more than 3g/day of EPA and DHA from supplements and no more than 2g/day of Omega-3 from the diet (FDA, 2004.)

BGC Partners Names QSAC Beneficiary of 9/11 Charity Day Event

September 3, 2008 9:49 pm Published by


Contact: Danièle Favre-Panayotatos
Director of Development
212-244-5560 ext. 2016

September 8, 2008 – BGC Partners Inc., a major inter-dealer broker named for B. Gerald Cantor, the founder of Cantor Fitzgerald (from which BGC Partners separated in 2004), has selected QSAC as one of a dozen New York-based nonprofit organizations to benefit from its annual Charity Day on September 11, 2008. Last year, BGC and Cantor offices around the world raised $6 million in a single day, contributing their entire trading commissions for that day to charitable organizations.

“We were very impressed by the work carried out by QSAC in supporting the autism community in New York and Long Island. By raising the profile of autism and providing comprehensive support and services to autistic children and their families, QSAC is making a very positive difference to the lives of many. We welcome them to our Charity Day knowing that the funds raised will be used efficiently and effectively to continue their prize-winning work”, said Daniel M. LaVecchia, Executive Managing Director for the Americas at BGC.

On Charity Day, celebrities representing the charities help raise funds by assisting professional brokers with trades of financial products to BGC’s institutional clients. This year, Dr. Ruth (Dr. Ruth Westheimer), TV personality, author, and lecturer, and Steve Cangialosi, sport broadcaster, host of New Jersey Devils’ hockey on FSNY and game host for the New York Red Bulls on MSG, will serve as QSAC’s ambassadors.

According to Gary A. Maffei, Executive Director of QSAC, “to be a beneficiary of Charity Day is a tremendous opportunity for us to generate funds which could not have come at a better time given the state of today’s economy and its impact on charitable giving”.

About QSAC
QSAC is one of the largest agencies dedicated specifically to autism and provides comprehensive services and programs to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families in New York City and Long Island. QSAC has received the Mental Hygiene Services Award for Excellence from New York City and recognition from the Queens Borough President and the Town of Hempstead for contributions to individuals with autism and their families. Over 2,000 people benefit yearly from our programs, including 902 individuals who receive direct services. Many of QSAC’s participants represent challenging cases referred to QSAC by the Boards of Education and New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Ben X

September 3, 2008 3:01 pm Published by

Directed by Nic Balthazar

“Balthazar has…created a tale of mythic proportions, elevating his character to hero status.” – Film Focus
Belgium / 2007 / Drama / In Flemish with English subtitles / 93 min.

Ben is different and his life is a universe all unto itself. He has Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism that prevents normal communication, and while he is a courageous hero—Ben X—in the fantasy on-line gaming world that consumes him, in his daily life Ben is tormented by bullies and ignored by apathetic teachers. As the bullies’ relentless attacks push him over the edge and out of control, his on-line dream girl, Scarlite, appears to him and helps him devise a perfect plan to confront the bullies and make them pay for their torment. Director Nic Balthazar’s dazzling debut blends fantasy and harsh social realism. Based on a true story, Balthazar brings us an utterly original and important film.

Ben X will have its national theatrical release in New York on Friday, October 24th, exclusively at Cinema Village


September 3, 2008 3:00 pm Published by

September 21-23 – 14 locations throughout NYC & surrounding counties

RealAbilities : The First Annual NY Disabilities Film Festival debuts this fall simultaneously in multiple locations throughout the New York metropolitan area. Beginning September 21st and running through September 23rd, RealAbilities will showcase feature, documentary and short films by and about the lives of people with disabilities.

Premiering the week before National Disability Awareness Month, RealAbilities aims to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. The festival will present award-winning films in 14 locations throughout the NY metropolitan area. Discussions and other engaging programs will bring together the community to explore, discuss and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

For more information about the festival got to or call (646) 505-5738


QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.