Polyunsaturated fatty acids, cognition and literacy in children with ADHD with and without learning difficulties

Nutritional Physiology Research Centre, University of South Australia, Australia.
Journal of Child Health Care (Impact Factor: 0.97). 08/2011; 15(4):299-311. DOI: 10.1177/1367493511403953
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Suboptimal omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 PUFA) levels may contribute to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related developmental problems. Associations between n-3 and omega-6 (n-6) PUFA levels in red blood cells (erythrocytes) and learning and behaviour were investigated in 75 children aged 7-12 with ADHD. Children provided blood samples and underwent cognitive assessments. Parents completed questionnaires and Conners' Rating Scales. Controlling for covariates, higher n-3 PUFA predicted lower anxiety/shyness (β = -.27), higher docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) better word reading (β = .22), and higher n-6 PUFA poorer reading (β = -.34), vocabulary (β = .-.26), spelling (β = -.30) and attention (β = -.30). Thirty-six per cent of the sample with learning difficulties had lower DHA than those without (M = 3.26 ± 0.54 vs M = 3.68 ± 0.76, p = .02). This study is the first to compare erythrocyte PUFAs (a measure of PUFA status) in children who have ADHD with and without learning difficulties, and supports emerging indications that the former may be more likely responders to n-3 PUFAs.


Available from: Natalie Parletta, Jan 29, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Available information on clinical guidelines and review articles is controversial and is insufficient to determine the clinical efficacy of supplementation with omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in neurodevelopmental disorders. Additional treatment may be effective for the treatment of these disorders.
    08/2012; 69(4):265-270.
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To determine whether supplementation with the long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) affects behavioral symptoms and cognitive impairments in children 6–12 years of age diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Study Design The randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled 16 weeks trial was conducted with 95 children diagnosed with ADHD according to DSM-IV criteria. Behavior was assessed by parents, teachers and investigators using standardized rating scales and questionnaires. Further outcome variables were working memory, speed of information processing and various measures of attention. For a subgroup of 81 participants, erythrocyte membrane fatty acid composition was analyzed before and after the intervention. Results Supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acid mix increased EPA and DHA concentrations in erythrocyte membranes and improved working memory function, but had no effect on other cognitive measures and parent- and teacher-rated behavior in the study population. Improved working memory correlated significantly with increased EPA, DHA and decreased AA (arachidonic acid).
    Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 07/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.plefa.2014.04.004 · 1.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nutritional insufficiencies of nutrients such as omega-3 highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs), vitamins and minerals have been linked to suboptimal developmental outcomes including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although the predominant treatment is currently psychostimulant medications, randomized clinical trials with omega-3 HUFAs have reported small-to-modest effects in reducing symptoms of ADHD in children despite arguable individual methodological and design misgivings. This review presents, discusses and critically evaluates data and findings from meta-analytic and systematic reviews and clinical trials published within the last 12 months. Recent trajectories of this research are discussed, such as comparing eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and testing the efficacy of omega-3 HUFAs as an adjunct to methylphenidate. Discussion includes highlighting limitations and potential future directions such as addressing variable findings by accounting for other nutritional deficiencies and behavioural food intolerances. The authors conclude that given the current economic burden of ADHD, estimated in the region of $77 billion in the USA alone, in addition to the fact that a proportion of patients with ADHD are either treatment resistant, nonresponders or withdraw from medication because of adverse side-effects, the investigation of nonpharmacological interventions including omega-3 HUFAs in clinical practice warrants extrapolating.
    Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 01/2015; DOI:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000140 · 3.97 Impact Factor