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Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2017 Oct 4;13:2531-2543. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S147305. eCollection 2017.

Supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids may improve hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotypy in children with autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Tsyr-Huey Mental Hospital, Kaohsiung Jen-Ai's Home.
2
WinShine Clinics in Specialty of Psychiatry.
3
Prospect Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology & Neurology, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China.
4
Physiotherapy Department, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
5
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King's College London, London.
6
Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford, UK.
7
Department of Pediatrics, DA-AN Women and Children Hospital, Tainan.
8
Department of Psychiatry, Tri-Service General Hospital, Taipei.
9
School of Medicine, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei.
10
Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine.
11
Institute for Translational Research in Biomedical Sciences, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Abstract

AIM:

Deficiency of omega 3 fatty acids may be linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Evidence about the potential therapeutic effects of supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids is lacking in ASD patients.

METHODS:

We searched major electronic databases from inception to June 21, 2017, for randomized clinical trials, which compared treatment outcomes between supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids and placebo in patients with ASD. An exploratory random-effects meta-analysis of the included studies was undertaken.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSION:

Six trials were included (n=194). Meta-analysis showed that supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids improved hyperactivity (difference in means =-2.692, 95% confidence interval [CI] =-5.364 to -0.020, P=0.048, studies =4, n=109), lethargy (difference in means =-1.969, 95% CI =-3.566 to -0.372, P=0.016, studies =4, n=109), and stereotypy (difference in means =-1.071, 95% CI =-2.114 to -0.029, P=0.044, studies =4, n=109). No significant differences emerged between supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids and placebo in global assessment of functioning (n=169) or social responsiveness (n=97). Our preliminary meta-analysis suggests that supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids may improve hyperactivity, lethargy, and stereotypy in ASD patients. However, the number of studies was limited and the overall effects were small, precluding definitive conclusions. Future large-scale randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm or refute our findings.

KEYWORDS:

autism; omega 3; pediatric; poly-unsaturated fatty acid

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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