Background: There is increasing evidence that fatty acid deficiencies or imbalances may contribute to childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled 6-week pilot trial investigating the effects of 1.5 g/d of omega-3 fatty acids (.84 g/d eicosapentaenoic acid, .7 g/d docosahexaenoic acid) supplementation in 13 children (aged 5 to 17 years) with autistic disorders accompanied by severe tantrums, aggression, or self-injurious behavior. The outcome measure was the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC) at 6 weeks.
Results: We observed an advantage of omega-3 fatty acids compared with placebo for hyperactivity and stereotypy, each with a large effect size. Repeated-measures ANOVA indicated a trend toward superiority of omega-3 fatty acids over placebo for hyperactivity. No clinically relevant adverse effects were elicited in either group.
Conclusions: The results of this study provide preliminary evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective treatment for children with autism.