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Arch Med Res. 2008 Oct;39(7):682-5. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2008.06.005.

Behavioral effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in young adults with severe autism: an open label study.

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Department of Health Applied Sciences, Section of Psychiatry, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.



Pilot findings seem to suggest a potential beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acid (FA) supplementation on behavioral alterations in children with autism. However, data on the potential benefits of omega-3 supplements in young adults with severe autism are lacking. In the present study, we sought to explore this issue in an open label study.


Nineteen young adults with severe autism (CARS >40), aged 18-40 years, received two fish oil capsules per day [0.93 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus 5 mg of vitamin E to avoid lipid peroxidation] for 6 weeks. Subjects were assessed with an ad hoc caregiver questionnaire, the Rossago Behavioral Checklist, for the assessment of behavioral anomalies.


No significant improvements were observed with regard to the severity and frequency of problematic behaviors either during the active treatment period or during the post-treatment 6-week observation period. Moreover, no effect on the number of episodes and severity of behavior aberrations was observed.


Our negative findings do not point toward a major effect of omega-3 FA supplementation on behavioral abnormalities in adults with severe autism. Further studies on larger sample sizes are warranted to shed more light on this important issue.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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