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Clin Psychol Rev. 2014 Aug;34(6):496-505. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2014.05.005. Epub 2014 Jun 2.

Omega-3 fatty acid and ADHD: blood level analysis and meta-analytic extension of supplementation trials.

Author information

1
Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States.
2
Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States; Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States. Electronic address: niggj@ohsu.edu.

Abstract

Interest in the value of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid supplementation for treatment of ADHD remains high. No prior meta-analysis has examined whether ADHD is associated with alterations in blood lipid levels and meta-analyses of supplementation have reached conflicting conclusions.

METHODS:

We report two new meta-analyses. Study 1 examined blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in relation to ADHD. Study 2 examined a larger sample of randomized intervention trials than previously reported.

RESULTS:

Study 1 included 9 studies (n=586) and found lower overall blood levels of n-3 in individuals with ADHD versus controls (g=0.42, 95% CI=0.26-0.59; p<.001). Study 2 included 16 studies (n=1408) and found that n-3 supplementation improved ADHD composite symptoms; using the best available rating and reporter (g=0.26, 95% CI=0.15-0.37; p<.001). Supplementation showed reliable effects on hyperactivity by parent and teacher report, but reliable effects for inattention only by parent report.

CONCLUSIONS:

Omega-3 levels are reduced in children with ADHD. Dietary supplementation appears to create modest improvements in symptoms. There is sufficient evidence to consider omega-3 fatty acids as a possible supplement to established therapies. However it remains unclear whether such intervention should be confined to children with below normal blood levels.

KEYWORDS:

ADHD; Intervention; Meta-analysis; Omega−3; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Supplementation

PMID:
25181335
PMCID:
PMC4321799
DOI:
10.1016/j.cpr.2014.05.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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