Investigating nutrition in young children with autism

May 11, 2015
Quinn, an autistic boy, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep. Repeatedly stacking or lining up objects is a behavior commonly associated with autism. Credit: Wikipedia.

In New Zealand one child in every 100 is diagnosed with a condition on the autism spectrum. It can be a stressful time for families coping with the reality of this diagnosis.

For parents and caregivers of children with (ASD) making sure children have the right nutrition is a daily challenge. Now researchers at Massey University's School of Food and Nutrition are investigating if omega-3 and vitamin D can help improve the quality of life for these families.

Principal investigator Dr Pamela von Hurst says this is new, world-leading research that Auckland-based families can participate in.

"The Vitamin D and omega-3 in Autism (VIDOMA) study will investigate the effect of supplementing vitamin D and omega-3 in 200 children aged three to seven years who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This is a very new area of research, and we are hoping that families will be willing to sign up and participate.

"Both vitamin D and omega-3 are known to play a number of roles in brain development, learning, memory and behaviour. We want to find out if supplementing these important nutrients can help reduce the severity of the condition, improve the developmental and cognitive profile of these children, and improve the quality of life for their families," says Dr von Hurst.

Internationally, the prevalence of autism appears to be increasing, but the cause is unknown.

"Each child taking part will receive a full psychological assessment as well as a nutritional assessment, which will be beneficial for all the families taking part," says Dr von Hurst. "The research team has a raft of expertise in both autism and nutrition, and we are hopeful that this study will make a difference for all families who have children with autism."

The research team includes two psychologists, a paediatrician from the Waitemata District Health Board, and staff from the School of Food and Nutrition. The study manager and first point of contact is Mr Owen Mugridge.

The study will take place over a 12-month period, with randomly allocated to D, -3, a combination of both, or a placebo which they will continuously take over that period. Children will attend five appointments across the 12 month period at either Massey University's Auckland campus, North Shore or Waitakere Hospitals. Three blood tests will be taken across the year and analysed. All information collected will be kept strictly confidential, and participants will receive all the results pertinent to their child.

Explore further: Can a parent's concerns predict autism?

More information: To register your interest, get more information or contact one of the VIDOMA team, go to the website:

Related Stories

Can a parent's concerns predict autism?

April 23, 2015

As co-director of the University of Alberta's Autism Research Centre, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum has devoted much of his career to understanding how to identify autism as early as possible. But despite his years of experience, Zwaigenbaum ...

Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may control brain serotonin

February 26, 2015

Although essential marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been shown to improve cognitive function and behavior in the context of certain brain disorders, the underlying mechanism has been unclear. In a new paper published ...

Recommended for you

Could flu during pregnancy raise risk for autism?

June 21, 2017

Researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found no evidence that laboratory-diagnosis alone of maternal influenza during pregnancy is associated with ...

Treating autism by targeting the gut

June 19, 2017

Experts have called for large-scale studies into altering the make-up of bacteria in the gut, after a review showed that this might reduce the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Until now, caregivers have relied ...

Autism risk linked to fever during pregnancy

June 13, 2017

Fever during pregnancy may raise the risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the child, according to a study led by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 11, 2015
They added mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, and other junk to shots. SV40 was in the previous polio vaccine that was linked to cancer. The cdc had info on their website before they took it down. Animals injected with it developed tumors. Many healthy girls have died after the 1-3 Gardasil shots. They have paid billions to people through the vaccine injury compensation program (cases they approved).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.