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Lee Swanson Research Update

Omega-3, -6 Combo Shows Promise in Children with ADHD

August 14, 2012

Omega-3, -6 Combo Shows Promise in Children with ADHD A combined supplement of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may improve measures of inattention, impulsiveness and cooperation in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), new data suggests.

Parents and teachers discerned improvements in children with ADHD after six months of supplementation with the omega combination, according to scientists from the University of Colombo and the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Sri Lanka.

"The combination of omega-3 and omega-6 was safe and effective in improving behavior and learning in the group that was studied," they wrote in the Journal of Child Neurology.

"The current study is a pilot and replication of the findings is required before we can advocate supplementation as a routine practice for children with behavior and learning difficulties that are refractory to standard managements."

There has been some research published that indicates that a combination of omega-3s and omega-6s may have benefits for children with ADHD. However, the totality of the evidence from randomized clinical trials is currently too limited to allow for any recommendations, concluded a recent review in the prestigious Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

For the new study, the Sri Lanka-based scientists recruited 94 children aged between 6 and 12 with ADHD to participate in their study. All of the children were receiving methylphenidate medication and standard behavior therapy for at least six months.

The children were randomly assigned to receive placebo or daily supplements of omega-3 (fish oil) and omega-6 (evening primrose oil). The ratio of fish oil to primrose oil was 1.6:1, with a daily omega-3 dose of 296.37 mg and a daily dose of omega-6 of 180.75 mg.

A significant improvement was reported by parents and teachers after six months for inattention, impulsiveness and cooperation. No improvements in distractibility were reported by parents and teachers.

"It is possible to infer from the results that the participants of the study may have benefitted further if treatment with omega-3 and omega-6 had been continued," the researchers said.

Journal of Child Neurology 27(6):747-753, 2012

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