Background: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.