We conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial to determine the feasibility and initial safety and efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids (1.3 g/day) for the treatment of hyperactivity in 27 children ages 3-8 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After 12 weeks, hyperactivity, as measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, improved 2.7 (± 4.8) points in the omega-3 group compared to 0.3 (± 7.2) points in the placebo group (p = 0.40; effect size = 0.38). Correlations were found between decreases in five fatty acid levels and decreases in hyperactivity, and the treatment was well tolerated. Although this pilot study did not find a statistically significant benefit from omega-3 fatty acids, the small sample size does not rule out small to moderate beneficial effects.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00786799.